Great Jubilee News
Papal Lenten Message Points to Christ as Only Source of Freedom

VATICAN CITY, JAN 27 (ZENIT).- "How can we ask for the grace of the Jubilee if we are insensitive to the needs of the poor?" This is the dramatic question posed by John Paul II in his Lenten Message for the Jubilee Year 2000.

The Holy Father recalled that the "ancient Jewish Jubilee, in fact, called for the freeing of slaves,
the cancellation of debts, the giving of assistance to the poor. Today, new forms of slavery and
more tragic forms of poverty afflict vast numbers of people, especially in the so-called Third
World countries. This is a cry of suffering and despair, which must be heard and responded to
by all those walking the path of the Jubilee."

The Pontiff does not simply denounce suffering -- instead, he penetrates to the depths of man's
being where these situations are created. "In face of the darkness of sin and man's incapacity to
free himself on his own, there appears in all its splendor the saving work of Christ. He shared in
human life, 'unto death, even death on a cross,' to ransom mankind from the slavery of evil and
restore humanity to its original dignity as children of God," the Holy Father explains in his

Total Liberation Our full liberation, therefore, is to be found in our reconciliation with God,
according to the Pope. "Forced deportations, the systematic elimination of peoples, contempt
for the fundamental rights of the person: these are the tragedies that even today humiliate
humanity. In daily life too, we see all sorts of forms of fraud, hatred, the destruction of others,
and lies of which man is both the victim and source. Humanity is marked by sin. Its tragic
condition reminds us of the cry of alarm uttered by the Apostle to the nations: 'None is righteous,
no, not one.' "

Given this situation, the Pope sees this coming Lent, which will begin on Ash Wednesday,
March 8, as very special. "The people of our time, tired of mediocrity and false hopes, are thus
given an opportunity to set out on the path that leads to fullness of life. In this context, Lent of
the Holy Year 2000 is par excellence 'the acceptable time ... the day of salvation,' the
particularly favorable opportunity 'to be reconciled to God.' "

According to the Pontiff, this liberation, which only Christ can give, invites all Christians during
this Jubilee year to exercise charity in a particular way by manifesting "Christ's love to our
brothers and sisters who lack the necessities of life, who suffer hunger, violence or injustice. This
is the way to make the ideals of liberation and fraternity found in the Sacred Scripture a reality,
ideals which the Holy Year puts before us once more."

"How can we ask for the grace of the Jubilee if we are insensitive to the needs of the poor, if we
do not work to ensure that all have what is necessary to lead a decent life?" the Holy Father

"May the millennium that is beginning be a time when, finally, the cry of countless men and
women -- our brothers and sisters who do not have even the minimum necessary to live -- is
heard and finds a benevolent response. It is my hope that Christians at every level will become
promoters of practical initiatives to ensure an equitable distribution of resources and the
promotion of the complete human development of every individual," concludes the message.