VATICAN CITY, OCT. 14, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II faces a busy week as he marks his milestone 25th anniversary as Pope.
On Thursday at 6 p.m., he will preside at the Thanksgiving Mass for the anniversary. Celebrations will culminate on Sunday with the beatification of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and will conclude next Tuesday with the consistory to elevate 31 new cardinals.
Catholics worldwide will gather on Thursday in old European cathedrals, Latin American colonial churches, chapels in the jungles of Africa, or, in the case of Communist China, in private homes, to join the Pope in a spiritual embrace.
John Paul II will begin the day by making a gift to the universal Church. He will sign the apostolic exhortation that gathers the conclusions of the 2001 synod on “The Bishop, Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World.”
This episcopal summit, and the new papal document, constitute the last stage in the renewal of the Catholic Church initiated by the Second Vatican Council. Over the past 40 years, episcopal synods have promoted Vatican II’s ideas by analyzing the various vocations and ministries within the Church.
Celebrations for this papal jubilee will begin on Wednesday afternoon, in the Vatican’s new synod hall, with a meeting of the world’s cardinals, who will discuss the top challenges facing the Church. The Pope is not expected to attend these meetings.
The working sessions will be opened by Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops, who will address the topic “The Petrine Ministry and Communion in the Episcopate.” He will be followed by Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, archbishop of Paris, who will speak on “Priests, Consecrated Life and Vocations.”
The congress in honor of the Holy Father will meet again on Friday morning, to hear a talk on the family by Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, and another on ecumenism by Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir.
On Friday afternoon, a concert by the Leipzig Orchestra and Choir in Paul VI Hall will include a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Bruckner’s “Ecce Sacerdos Magnum.”
The cardinals’ last meeting will be on Saturday, with an address by Cardinal Ivan Dias of Bombay, India, who will discuss the missionary challenges facing the Church. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano will assess “25 Years of Pontificate at the Service of Peace.”
At the end of the working sessions, the cardinals will receive a special message from John Paul II, addressed to the College of Cardinals. The Pope will also address the cardinals directly. The day will end with a celebratory meeting of all those present, which will be attended by the Holy Father.
At 10 a.m. Sunday, John Paul II will beatify Mother Teresa in St. Peter’s Square. Some 200,000 pilgrims are expected to attend the Mass.
A Thanksgiving Mass will be celebrated in St. Peter’s Square on Monday, by Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes. The Pope will then receive the pilgrims in audience. On Oct. 20-22, Mother Teresa’s relics will be exposed for public veneration in the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
At 10:30 a.m. next Tuesday, the Pope will hold an ordinary public consistory in St. Peter’s Square to elevate 31 new cardinals (one of them secretly). Courtesy calls on the cardinals are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. that day.
On Wednesday, John Paul II will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Square with the new cardinals, who will receive their cardinal’s ring from him.