Great Jubilee News


Interview with Cardinal Roger Etchegaray

VATICAN CITY, JULY 5 ( More than six months have passed since the opening of
the Holy Door at St. Peter's Basilica on Christmas Eve. Since then, over 10.6 million pilgrims and
tourists have visited Rome. 60,000 volunteers have offered their service for the Jubilee; close to 800
religious celebrations have been held. These are the already well known figures of the first 6 months
of the Holy Year. Along with this quantitative and organizational evaluation, Cardinal Roger
Etchegaray, president of the Committee of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, made a "spiritual
evaluation" of the Jubilee, during an interview with the Italian agency SIR.

-- If you were a painter, how would you paint the first half of the Jubilee? And, if you were a
journalist, under what front-page headline would you comment on it? Finally, if you were a press
photographer, what picture would you choose from the photographic archives between December
24, 1999, and June 30, 2000, to describe it?

-- Cardinal Etchegaray: If I were a painter, I would certainly not depict it as a "still-life," but as a
scene of sunrise, with the vibrant colors of a Matisse or Van Gogh. Now, after 6 months, the
Jubilee is at its zenith, its meridian, illuminating the continents, and not just Rome, with the full force
of its radiance. If I were a journalist, I would run the following front-page headline: "Church adopts
impulse of youth." Immersed in the fresh waters of the Gospel, she is purified and fortified to tell the
truth, the essence of her entire life. If I were a press photographer, I would feature the picture of the
Pope on Mount Nebo, less familiar than the one of the wall of the Temple of Jerusalem. As the new
Moses, from Mount Nebo John Paul II contemplates the entire Promised Land.

-- You are conscious of the many situations of suffering in the world. Over the past 6 months, have
you pondered on the Jubilee's message to the many people who are suffering or who learn about it
through the media?

-- Cardinal Etchegaray: In keeping with John Paul II express wishes, I am impressed to see how the
social requirements of the Jubilee have been taken on board virtually everywhere in the local
Churches. I am not just thinking of solidarity with peoples oppressed by the burden of foreign debt.
In recent days, thanks to the Jubilee of Prisoners and the Pope's message, we are far more aware of
the world of prisons, which poses so many questions to our consciences and attitude to crime.
When, symbolically, John Paul II invited down-and-outs of every kind to lunch with him, I
happened to have a young African sitting beside me who had fled from genocide in his country, and
now makes his way every day through the streets of Rome in search of work. Poverty has a double
face: suffering and despair, but also charity and hope. Caritas-Rome and elsewhere, as well as many
other Church initiatives, testify to the Gospel. After all, that is its true character -- it is never
proclaimed more authentically than it is to the poor and the oppressed.

-- What events, what words, and what gestures of this Jubilee, which is open to the world, might
have resulted in questions about God, even among non-Catholics and nonbelievers?

-- Cardinal Etchegaray: This is a difficult question to answer. It touches the secret of consciences.
But I have no doubt that the Jubilee has... affected the hearts of non-Catholics and nonbelievers.
This Jubilee, which is Catholic by tradition, has extended beyond the confines of our Church and
has done so, especially, thanks to the media (particularly television), whose role I must
acknowledge. I am thinking of certain moving pictures of the Pope in the Holy Land, which were
broadcast worldwide. In keeping with Jesus' missionary command, in this time of history the Gospel
was proclaimed to the farthest corners of the earth.

-- Significant spiritual and ecclesial events await us, not to mention the daily routine of Church
affairs. Over the coming 6 or 7 months, the media's spotlight will continue to be focused. At present,
halfway through the Jubilee, are there signs indicating that the Jubilee will not end in January 2001?

-- Cardinal Etchegaray: The Jubilee is a privileged time to do the most ordinary things of Christian
life in an extraordinary way. But we cannot live constantly at a high point of tension. Comforted and
inspired by the Jubilee year, we will have to return to the usual rhythm of life, cultivating patience to
wait for God's and man's time. But we know that divine grace will never be lacking; it will be as
abundant as ever. In this sense, the Jubilee is for all time. It is important, however, not to forget that
we cannot to put a period after January 6, 2001!