Great Jubilee News
CONFESSION STRESSED AS KEY TO JUBILEE PILGRIMAGE VATICAN ( -- In a note published on the front page of the official Vatican newspaper, the head of the Vatican's Apostolic Penitentiary-- the body concerned with penances and indulgences-- has set out the conditions for obtaining indulgences during the
Jubilee year.

In the February 10 issue of L'Osservatore Romano, Cardinal William Baum emphasizes that a
Jubilee pilgrimage should lead to "reconciliation with God," beginning with individual confession. 

Msgr. Jean-Marie Gervais, an official at the apostolic penitentiary, explains that the note from
Cardinal Baum is intended to clarify the purpose of the Jubilee pilgrimage. He explains: "Many
people have planned to make a Jubilee pilgrimage to Rome during the Holy Year, but perhaps
they have not all realized that this should first and foremost be a time of personal conversion,
centered on the Sacrament of Reconciliation." 

The note from Cardinal Baum is intended to provide a pastoral understanding of the pilgrimage
and the accompanying indulgence. It also offers a less formal approach to the topic than had
previously been available. The Apostolic Penitentiary had published a formal decree in
November 1999, setting forth the indulgences that could be obtained during the Holy Year, as
well as a "manual of indulgences." But these publications were formal legal documents; now
Cardinal Baum provides a more accessible guide to the topic.

In an introduction to the prelate's note, L'Osservatore Romano notes that "the gift of an
indulgence shows the fullness of God's mercy which is expressed in the first place through the
Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation." The paper goes on to say that even after being
absolved of sin, "the human person is still marked by the 'residue' of sin, because of which he is
not fully open to grace." Thus the individual still needs God's grace to complete the process of
conversion. For this purpose, L'Osservatore states, "the gift of an indulgence is a powerful help."

The Holy See is placing a heavy stress on the importance of Confession during the Jubilee Year.
Inside St. Peter's Basilica, the entire right side of the transept has been closed off to tourists, to
accommodate confessionals for pilgrims. Also, the left side of the colonnade in the atrium of the
basilica has been filled with rows of confessionals, where priests from the Roman Curia are
hearing confessions on a regular basis. Vatican officials are doing their best to ensure that
pilgrims will have ready access to the sacrament, with priests available to hear confessions in a
number of different languages.