VATICAN CITY, JAN. 1, 2000 (ZENIT.org).- The year 2000 was marked by the huge number of pilgrims to Rome, the greatest in the city´s entire history.
However, the various organizations in charge of the reckoning are not in agreement on the exact numbers. Whereas the Roman Jubilee Agency states that the total number of pilgrims to the Holy City in 2000 was 24.5 million, the Italian Statistical Center (CENSIS) affirms there were 32 million.
On December 30, the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household published the total number of pilgrims who attended events presided over by John Paul II last year, establishing the figure at 8,515,088.
About 4,652,500 people participated in individual ceremonies or special Jubilees presided over by the Pontiff, and close to 1,463,500 in the general audiences that were held throughout the year. 1,342,088 attended special audiences, and 1,057,000 participated in Sunday and Feastday noon meetings with the Pope to pray the Marian “Angelus.”
In an effort to evaluate the Jubilee, on December 27 Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Vatican spokesman, said on Vatican Radio that “the real problem is not to examine the meaning of the extremely large number of pilgrims who came to Rome, but to reflect on the reason why these people came to Rome.”
“At a time described by some sociologists as a post-Christian and post-metaphysical era, why did 25 million people undertake this trip for an exclusively religious reason?” Navarro-Valls asked. “This is the fact that must be reflected upon; however, simply for reasons of intellectual honesty, it entails modifying certain prejudices and ideas of our own time.”