Vatican Notes & Quotes

World Heeding John Paul Us Call

OTTAWA CITIZEN, Sept. 27—Pope John Paul II's call for developed nations to cancel Third World debt in the Jubilee Year 2000 has sparked a world-wide mobilization of support, said the Ottawa Citizen.

Canadians have now joined in the effort, said the paper, reporting that Anglican Bishop John Baycroft and Catholic Archbishop Marcel Gervais will meet with Canadian government officials to urge them to endorse the efforts. They also promise to deliver half a million signatures to an unprecedented world-wide petition drive, inspired by the Pope's words, that hopes to present 24 million signatures to a 1999 Group of Seven meeting in Germany.

The Holy Father's idea is to apply Old Testament Jubilee practices to the great anniversary of Christ's birth. He suggested that by writing off Third World debt, industrialized nations could help developing nations start the new millennium with a clean slate, said the report.

Experts cited in the paper estimate that Third World countries have already paid back twice the original $1.5 trillion they borrowed in the 1960s and 1970s, and have become bankrupt.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin fears that a blanket forgiveness of Third World debt would send the wrong message to nations who are badly in need of fiscal discipline, said the report.

Thieves Rifle Through Vatican Desks

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Sept. 26—It isn't Fort Knox, but in terms of security, it is very close. The Associated Press reported that thieves somehow broke into Vatican offices and made off with about $1,200 in cash.

The offices are located just off St. Peter's Square. Leaving computers, disks, and documents untouched in the office that oversees Catholic education and religious orders, thieves instead rifled through desks for the cash, said the report, citing Vatican officials.

Thousands of tourists cross by the targeted building each day, said the report. The theft occurred on a Sunday, when St. Peter's sees many pilgrims. Thefts in the Vatican are rare enough that notable ones have been spaced two years apart in the last four years, according to the report. Four Greek vases were stolen in 1994, and in 1996 an American art history professor was sentenced for tearing pages from a valuable 14th century manuscript and attempting to smuggle them out of the Vatican Library, it said.

Holy Year History

BOSTON GLOBE, Sept. 30—A reader wrote to the Boston Globe's special feature answering miscellaneous questions and elicited information about the Vatican's — and the whole Church's — celebration of holy years.

“There are three entrances to the Vatican in Rome. Two doors are passable; the third, bearing a large cross, is not. The sealed door, it is said, is only opened every 25 years. Why is this?” wondered the reader.

The answer: “Holy doors, the main doors at St. Peter and other Roman basilicas, are kept sealed except during Holy Year, a periodic Year of Jubilee, observed every 25 years by the Roman Catholic Church. Holy Year was begun in 1300 by Pope Boniface VIII, who intended it to be celebrated every 100 years. Since then, there have been three changes in the intervals. In 1470, Pope Paul II reduced the time to 25 years, the period it has been held each year since, except in 1933 when Pope Pius XI made an exception in honor of the 19th centennial of Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension. When Pope John Paul II closed the Holy Door in 1984, it marked the end of the 26th Jubilee Year in the history of the Roman Catholic Church.”