Pope Opens Basillica Holy Door for Catholic JubileeAired January 1, 2000 - 9:05 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Earlier, the pope traveled to a Central Rome basillica to open its holy door for the Catholic jubilee.
CNN's Brent Sadler was there, and he has more now on the papal address.
BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pope John Paul II leads the Roman Catholic Church into the new millennium, opening the holy jubilee doors inside St. Peter's Basillica, the first of four such symbolic ceremonies spanning the millennium change.
These holy doors are mostly sealed, but when open, symbolize the essence of the Roman Catholic Church's jubilee 2000 celebrations now under way.
At times, there was inspiration, contemplation and expectation, as a priest leading pilgrims from the Czech Republic explains.
"To pass through the holy door," he says, "is to go from sin to God's grace."
Pope Aniphase (ph) VIII introduced the first jubilee way back in 1300, a time when travel was torturous and when Rome was a dangerous place to be, especially for pilgrims.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know that people slept under the porticoes. We know that some people, in fact, died from the cold. There were plagues caused by the crush of people. So it wasn't very easy for people coming to Rome.
SADLER (on camera): Jubilees and there historic door openings are rare, extremely rare, a mere 28 in the past seven centuries. Coinciding with the new millennium, it is unique this time around.
(voice-over): In fading archive film from 1975, Pope Paul VI opens St. Peters doors. He's almost hit my falling masonry.
Eight years later, during a special church jubilee, John Paul II pushes open the same doors with relative ease. Evolving Vatican management turns it into a major media event. And today, the ailing pope barely has to lift a finger to get through. He prays at the threshold of 2,000 years of Christian history.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God became man. They show us how to live, and they make it possible for us to live forever. So it's a truly significant anniversary.
SADLER: Pilgrim pressure on Rome in the coming year is expected to be higher than ever. Church volunteers are on hand at the airport to give advice and information. The Eternal City's leader spent more than a year, in conjunction with The Vatican, on sprucing up religious and archaeological sites.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously, my city is not paradise. Also, we have the pope here. So we need much, much more to improve, but we did something.
SADLER: So pilgrims can expect modern day support, authorities having spent months rehearsing arrangements and smoothing out potential difficulties for the jubilee, hoping the pious and the pentant will find what they're looking for.
Brent Sadler, CNN, Rome.
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