WASHINGTON (January 10, 2000) -- Encuentro 2000, the Catholic Church's national jubilee year meeting in the United States, will stress the themes of reconciliation and reaching out to the weak.
The glimpse of the meeting, slated for July 6-9, at the Los Angeles Convention Center, was offered by Father Robert Vitillo, a key member of the core team overseeing the event, in an interview with Il Regno, the Italian Catholic documentary service.
In the interview, which ran in Il Regno's November 15 edition, Father Vitillo, head of the U.S. Bishops' Catholic Campaign for Human Development, stressed the overall justice thrust of U.S. activities for the jubilee year 2000.
The. jubilee year activities in the United States "concentrate a great deal on social issues," he said.
"The national meeting, Encuentro 2000, aims to show the 'many faces in God's house' and demonstrate the unity of the Body of Christ within the diversity of its members" and to foster the "Catholic vision for the third millennium," he said.
Encuentro 2000, which was first proposed by the Bishops' Committee for Hispanic Affairs, will bring together people from various cultures, ethnic communities, and diverse apostolates, all of whom give shape to the Catholic Church in the United States.
"It will be an occasion to meet the living Christ in the various ethnic, racial, and cultural groups within the Church, to seek pardon for the sins of the past especially with regard to previous failures to recognize the richness of racial, ethnic, and cultural differences in the Church," Father Vitillo said. Participants also will "develop strategies to help parishes and those ministering in them to affirm the gifts of the people of God and to be welcoming toward those who are poor, weak, and those newly arriving in our local communities."
"In summary," he added, "this encuentro will help us to learn how to effectively respond to those thirsting for justice."
In the interview, Father Vitillo also noted efforts by the church in the United States to work for economic justice as it celebrates the start of the Third Millennium.
"The Catholic Campaign for Human Development, for example," he said, "canceled the debt of a community-based organization which had received a loan from our office but was unable to repay it," he said." Cancellation of debts in a jubilee year is a tradition which goes back to Old Testament days.
In another activity, he said, "the bishops' Sub-committee for the Third Millennium, together with other committees of the bishops, circulated a Pledge for Jubilee Justice, Charity, and Peace at the level of the parishes and requested that individual believers take this pledge."
Father Vitillo stressed church concerns for the growing gap between rich and poor around the world "Data demonstrate the ever-widening gap between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'," he said. "The world's 225 richest people have a combined wealth of more than $1 trillion, equal to the annual income of the poorest 47 percent of the world's people (2.5 billion); the three richest people have assets that exceed the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the 48 least developed countries. Merely 4 percent of the combined wealth of the 225 richest people in the world - $40 billion - could achieve and maintain universal access to basic education, basic health care, adequate food, safe water, and sanitation for all the world's residents."