VATICAN CITY, JAN. 23, 2001 (Zenit.org).-
The Jubilee is over, and John Paul II is returning to a full schedule of activities.
“Ad limina” visits of bishops from around the world, who go to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul and visit the Bishop of Rome, will begin again Wednesday. Bishops from Hungary are due here.
The visits were suspended during the year 2000, because of the numerous pastoral activities the Holy Father had to preside over.
This year John Paul II plans to receive bishops representing 40 episcopal conferences — 22 from Asia, 10 from America, five from Europe, and three from Africa.
Among the bishops expected in Rome, are the 11 episcopal conferences of former Soviet Union countries. They are due here Feb. 4-10.
The last visit this year will be from the bishops of Iran and Iraq, which is scheduled for Dec. 10-15.
In addition, the Pope will once again take up his customary Sunday visits to parishes of his diocese, Rome. He invariably enjoys informal meetings with the parishes´ children and youth. The Pontiff´s first parish visit this year is scheduled for Feb. 4. John Paul II hopes to visit all the 331 parishes of his diocese. To date, he has visited 291.
His international pastoral trips, suspended during the Jubilee except for his pilgrimage to the places of salvation, will also be taken up again. In an official statement, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls confirmed Monday afternoon that the Pope´s trip to Ukraine will begin June 23 and end June 27, thus denying rumors of Orthodox opposition to the visit.
Likewise, just before Christmas, the Armenian Apostolic Patriarchate announced that the Pope might travel to that country in September to celebrate the 17th centenary of the official declaration of that country as Christian.
The Vatican is also preparing a papal trip to Damascus, Syria, and Athens, Greece, in fulfillment of John Paul´s hope to make a pilgrimage in St. Paul´s footsteps.
The possibility of the Pope´s journeying to Abraham´s birthplace in Iraq has not been discarded, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, told the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera on Jan. 6. That the trip did not materialize last year does not mean “that the Holy Father has given up,” the cardinal said.