Official Calendar Of The Year 2000

Of The Catholic Church In The Holy Land


Assembly of Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land

General Secretariat for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 Jerusalem


The universal character of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 bases itself upon the universality of salvation which Jesus Christ, true God and true man, brought to earth by his birth, death, and Resurrection. The Assembly of Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land has justly been concerned with giving the most local flavor possible to the inter-Rite Celebrations that will be held at these holy sites, the first ones to draw pilgrims to follow step by step the footprints of our Savior and his Mother.

We hope that this calendar, inspired by the calendar published by the Central Committee in Rome, might help Christians on their pilgrim journey, and manifest their solidarity with all Churches. In this sense, as stated in the common Pastoral Letter of the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches of the Middle East to their own reunited at Nicosia from 23-24 January 1998, the Great Jubilee must be the "favorable time," the kairos, to bring together witnesses to Gospel values without which true and lasting peace cannot be known nor achieved.

The ecumenical exigency, so strongly marked by Pope John Paul II, must find in Jerusalem and in the Holy Land the most fertile and exemplary soil. The whole world expects and awaits so much from reconciliation and harmony between the diverse religions, particularly among the descendants of Abraham, father of all who believe in God.

Finally, how can we but hope that the Pope, John Paul II, might himself come in pilgrimage to this Holy Land, and bear witness to the faith in Christ, "yesterday, today, and tomorrow" for the health of the entire world! Wishing you a good Holy Year.

From the Vatican, November 11, 1998.

Roger Cardinal Etchegaray President

+ Crescenzio Sepe Secretary General


Assembly of Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land

We, the members of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land , are pleased to publish this calendar of events for the Year 2000. It reflects our faith in the mystery of the Redemptive Incarnation of Jesus and of all the other aspects of his life. It sets the dates of the principal celebrations foreseen during this year of grace on the very sites sanctified by Our Lord, especially in Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem. The calendar also witnesses to the communion that exists among Catholics in the Holy Land because it includes the principal celebrations of the Latin, Melkite, Maronite, Syrian, and Armenian Catholic Churches, and, therefore, within the Latin Church, those which will take place in the various shrines entrusted to the Franciscan Custody.

The calendar is intended not only for our local Christians but also for those of the churches around the word. As pilgrims walk in the footsteps of Jesus, we invite them to discover, at the same time, our small but vibrant Church which includes Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Cyprus. In order to understand its realities and to create bonds of solidarity with it, we suggest that pilgrims include in their tour a visit to one or another of our parishes. The General Secretariat for the Year 2000 will help them choose the city or village capable of receiving them.

On the occasion of their pilgrimage during this year of grace, may pilgrims discover that the Land of Jesus, still torn by a conflict between two peoples, is nevertheless yearning for peace, justice and reconciliation. May they pray for this Land so that it, too, may discover the face of God and His Will in its regard.

We invite pilgrims, therefore, to come pray with us. May their faith help strengthen our own as well as the hopes of all the inhabitants of this Holy Land.

· H.B. Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and President of the Assembly

· Archbishop Boutros Mouallem of Haifa and Galilee, Greek-Catholic (Melkite) Church

· Archbishop George El-Murr of Petra and Philadelphia, Greek-Catholic (Melkite) Church

· Archbishop Lutfi Laham, Patriarchal Exarch of Jerusalem, Greek-Catholic (Melkite) Church

· Bishop Selim Sayegh, Vicar General for Jordan, Latin Patriarchate

· Bishop Kamal-Hanna Bathish, Vicar General of the Latin Patriarchate and Delegate for the Great Jubilee

· Bishop Boulos-Giacinto Marcuzzo, Vicar General for Israel, Latin Patriarchate

· Bishop André Bedoglouyan, Patriarchal Exarch of Jerusalem, Armenian Catholic Church

· Archbishop Paul Nabil Sayyah of Haifa and the Holy Land, and Patriarchal Exarch for Jerusalem, Maronite Church

· Bishop Grégoire Pierre Abdel-Ahad, Patriarchal Exarch of Jerusalem, Syrian Catholic Church

· Rt. Rev. Giovanni Battistelli, O.F.M., Custos of the Holy Land

· Rt. Rev. Paul Collin, Patriarchal Exarch of Jerusalem, Chaldean Catholic Church

· Rev. Pierre Grech, S.C.J., Secretary General of the Assembly


1. According to the calendar most widely accepted throughout the world to calculate the passage of time, the Year 2000 marks an important moment in the history of humankind: the beginning of a new era which, hopefully, will bring peace, reconciliation and prosperity to peoples everywhere. For the Church, it is also an important anniversary because it celebrates 2000 years since the birth of Jesus Christ, her Lord and Savior. The event is marked by a Holy Year, known for the first time in history as the Great Jubilee.

2. Indeed, for the first time, by decision of His Holiness Pope John Paul II , a jubilee will be celebrated simultaneously throughout the world and will have two centers of gravity, Rome and the Holy Land (TMA, 55).

3. Following the example of the Holy See which published its calendar on May 21, 1998, the Central Jerusalem Committee, and more recently the General Secretariat of the Jubilee which represents all the Catholic Churches in the Holy Land, have worked assiduously to prepare the present Calendar.

The Jubilee Year in Scripture

4. As pointed out in the foreword to the Calendar published by the Central Committee of the Holy See, "it is usual, when discussing with the faithful the significance of the values of a "holy year," to refer to the institution of the "jubilee year" of the people of the Old Testament. According to Leviticus, every fiftieth year, that is the year after "seven weeks of years" (Lv 25, 8), was a kind of great sabbatical year: the land was to rest, thus it remained untilled; fields and houses which had been sold returned to their previous owners; slaves were liberated and insolvent debtors were freed from their debts. The institution of the "jubilee year" was inspired by principles of social justice ?. The Hebrews, freed by God from slavery in Egypt, could not be slaves of earthly masters.

5. For Christians, the celebration of the "holy year" also recalls the "year of grace" inaugurated by Jesus in the Synagogue of Nazareth (Lk 4, 16-20), and the "year of mercy" which the vine dresser asks of the master in the hope that the sterile fig would bear fruit (Lk 13, 5-9).

Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah, the Lord's Anointed who, according to the prophetic word, was "sent to announce a joyful message to the poor ? and to preach a year of favor" (Lk 4, 18-19; Is 61, 1-2). Jesus is also, obviously, the vinedresser of the parable who asks the master -- the Father, rich in mercy (Eph. 2, 4), for a "year of mercy" in the hope that the sterile fig -- man, unfaithful to the Covenant -- would bring forth the fruit of holiness and justice.

The year 2000, marked with that great sign of being the Second Millennium from the birth of the Messiah Savior, is that "year of grace," that "year of mercy," always available, in which man is called to receive the joyful message and be converted to God. If he does not welcome the Word and be converted, there will be no year of grace, no year of mercy, no jubilee year."

Characteristics of the present Calendar

6. The Jubilee Calendar of the Church in the Holy Land takes into consideration the very diverse aspects of this community. Accordingly, it is inter-ritual, local, Catholic, ecumenical, interfaith, and international.

a) Inter-ritual

7. The Catholic Church in the Holy Land is comprised of six different rites, each with its own hierarchy, the Latin Rite including the Franciscan Custody. All are working together to prepare the Jubilee. The major celebrations and events, such as the opening and closing of the Holy Year, the feast of the Annunciation, a certain number of processions and other ceremonies will have an inter-ritual dimension, with the participation of the hierarchies and faithful of each rite. Other celebrations will be proper to each. However, due to the diversity of local celebrations, the listings in the present calendar are not exhaustive. From time to time, the General Secretariat of the Jubilee, the Christian Information Center, and the Internet will publish more detailed calendars for the benefit not only of local Christians but also of all who wish to participate in the life of the local Christian community.

b) Local

8. The Church in the Holy Land , like all other Churches throughout the world, has its own local Christian communities. These communities have the privilege of living in the land where Christ was born, lived, first announced the Good News of salvation, and carried out his redemptive mission for all mankind. The Holy Places, along with these living Christian communities, are the best witnesses to the 2000 years of uninterrupted Christian presence in this land. But the privilege is nevertheless tempered, in some Holy Sites, by a number of traditions and constraints imposed upon us by history and which we cannot ignore. As Christianity's Mother Church dating back to the very first Pentecost, the Church of Jerusalem will try to add luster to the celebration of the major feasts found in the calendar of the universal Church. But it will also pay special attention to its own saints and to the particular celebrations and traditions of each Holy Place. In the Holy Land, the celebration of the Great Jubilee will also include initiatives taken by the local civil authorities in collaboration with Church officials. It is still too early to enumerate these initiatives because of the complexity of our situation and the multiplicity of the authorities involved: Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian.

c) Catholic

9. The Church of Jerusalem is grateful to the Holy Father for having focused world attention on the importance and centrality of the Holy Land. Though we have always celebrated past jubilees with the universal Church, this is the first time in history when the universal Church will celebrate one with it, since Jerusalem, along with Rome, is one of the two principal poles of this jubilee. Inevitably, therefore, the Church in the Holy Land is programming some of its festivities in coordination with Rome, particularly the opening and closing of the Jubilee, the feast of the Annunciation on March 25, and possibly others. A calendar of special events will be published from time to time, as indicated above, paragraph 7.

d) Ecumenical

10. Conscious of the ecumenical dimension of the Great Jubilee, the Christian leaders of the various Churches in the Holy Land have been collaborating with each other in its preparation. One Bishop has said repeatedly: "We wish to show the world that, despite our divisions, we are united in preparing and celebrating together the Great Jubilee of the nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ." A commission, called the Jerusalem Inter-Church Committee (JICC), was created in 1995 to prepare and suggest means and initiatives common to all the Churches. Each Church will hold its own celebrations, but the other Churches will be invited to participate, or at least to be present. Our Calendar mentions a few of them. A more complete list will be published in due time with a common accord.

e) Interfaith

11. In the Holy Land, and particularly in Jerusalem, the believers of three monotheistic religions live side-by-side: Jews, Christians and Muslims. All three have a profound veneration for and attachment to the land which each considers to be holy and a source of inspiration. For all three, Jerusalem remains the City of God about which it is said: "Here shall I rest for evermore; here shall I make my home as I have wished" (Ps 132, 14). Unfortunately, political vicissitudes have been such that they live side-by-side in ignorance, if not in contempt and hatred for each other. The Year 2000 will hopefully be the occasion for all three to come to know each other better in order to understand and find each other in reconciliation and collaboration.

f) International

12. Because the Church of Jerusalem is the Mother Church from which the message of Christ first emanated, it is aware of its sacred responsibility to be hospitable toward the Christians of the world who will come in search of their roots, hoping for deep spiritual renewal. Pilgrimages which, traditionally, are the typical vehicles for conversion and reconciliation will also be the most common means of exchange between the Church in the Holy Land and the local Churches around the world.

The expected influx of pilgrims will put our small Church to the test, as it tries to offer them the needed atmosphere for encountering Christ and accepting more fully his message of salvation and redemption. The local communities are willing to help, as best they can, hoping that their efforts and exchanges will be occasions for pilgrims to discover the treasures of the Church of Jerusalem in all of its richness and diversity. Other aspects of the Calendar

13. The Calendar has four additional characteristics:

a) Liturgical

It understandably follows the rhythm of the Church's liturgical year, underlining its major seasons and feasts. Its high points are obviously Christmas and Easter. Living these mysteries to the full is the best possible way of encouraging Christians to progress in holiness. However, it also provides for various traditional practices of popular piety and devotion, such as processions, Marian devotions during the month of May, the way of the cross, etc.

b) Festive

The calendar tries to celebrate the lives of as many categories of people as possible, hence the special days consecrated to children, youth, students, seminarians, priests, consecrated life, etc.

c) Sacramental

The seven Sacraments of the Church (baptism, confirmation, marriage, etc.) are its ordinary channels of grace for the sanctification of the faithful. As in the Roman calendar, the present one marks their celebration with greater solemnity at least once during the Jubilee.

d) Open-ended

The calendar does not presume to be complete. Given the numerous unknowns at this early date, the situation cannot be otherwise. Some events are still in their early planning stage, while others -- ecumenical, interfaith, civil -- are only now being considered, to say nothing of possible celebrations organized by the pilgrims themselves or by different national groups, etc. As mentioned above in paragraph 7, more detailed calendars will eventually be published by the competent institutions, as details become available.

Approaching the celebration

14. Such is the calendar of celebrations in the Holy Land for the Great Jubilee. It is hoped that the events contained therein will help sustain and nourish the piety of the faithful, both here and throughout the world, and help lead them on their road to conversion. May it also help toward a reconciliation between peoples as well as between believers of all religions, particularly in this holy part of the world. May all one day, rejoice in the inspired vision recalled by Pope John Paul II in his apostolic letter Tertio millennio adveniente:

Seen in this light, the whole of Christian history appears to us as a single river, into which many tributaries pour their waters. The Year 2000 invites us to gather with renewed fidelity and ever deeper communion along the banks of this great river: the river of Revelation, of Christianity and of the Church, a river which flows through human history starting from the event which took place at Nazareth and then at Bethlehem two thousand years ago. This is truly the "river" whose "streams," in the expression of the Psalm, "make glad the city of God" (46, 5) (no. 25). 15. With the Holy Father, we entrust the Jubilee and the children of the Holy Land to Mary, the Daughter of this land, the Holy Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church, the Queen of this Holy Land, and "the Star which safely guides their steps to the Lord. May the unassuming Young Woman of Nazareth, who two thousand years ago offered to the world the Incarnate Word, lead the men and women of the new millennium towards the One who is "the true light that enlightens every man" (Jn 1, 9) (TMA 59).

+ Kamal-Hanna Bathish President of the Jerusalem Committee and of the General Secretariat for the Great Jubilee

Robert J. Fortin, A.A. Secretary General of the Jerusalem Committee and of the General Secretariat for the Great Jubilee

Jerusalem, 25 October 1998, Feast of Our Lady of Palestine, principal patroness of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land