Great Jubilee News

VATICAN CITY, JULY 7 ( Despite the many criticisms from anti-religious realms,
which did their utmost to persuade pilgrims not to come to Rome, half-way through its course, this is
proving to be a record Jubilee.

From January to June, 34.6 million people came to Rome, 13 million of whom were Italians, and
21.6 million foreigners. There was a 36% increase in the number of pilgrims -- 43% more Italians
than usual, and 27% more foreigners.

The figures exceed the most optimistic forecast made by the Jubilee Agency, which estimated that
29.8 million people would visit the Eternal City during the first 6 months. The most visited period
was achieved during Holy Week, which registered 2.8 million visitors.

The specifically spiritual value of the visits is confirmed by the number of religious events. From
December 24, 1999, to June 30, 2000, 783 religious celebrations took place; 78 were linked to the
ordinary liturgical calendar, and 705 to the Holy Year.

By way of contrast, "Gay Pride" Day, to which the international press has given so much coverage,
continues to lose participants. The first figures reported 300,000 participants, but the estimate was
lowered to 250,000 and now there is talk of 200,000. Italian railroads made a train available,
designated "the Lesbian Arrow," which was cancelled for lack of reservations. Very few people are
going to "Pride Village"; of those who do, the majority seem to do so out of curiosity.