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BY Jim Cosgrove
Vietnamese Communist Praises Pope's ‘Mea Culpa’
GIAI PHONG, March 18 — A Vietnamese communist journalist commended Pope John Paul II for his “courageous act” of asking God's pardon for the sins of members of the Church.
In an article appearing in the Ho Chi Minh City daily, Ben Nghe called the Pope's public apology “an unprecedented act on the part of the Catholic Church.”
In a March 12 ceremony at St. Peter's Basilica, the Holy Father asked God's pardon for “the sins of the sons and daughters of the Church.”
Nghe wrote in the paper of Ho Chi Minh City's Communist Party committee: “I wish that all the members of the Church hierarchy and all the Catholic faithful support Pope John Paul's good will.”
“Changes in the world have been such that each individual, each socio-political organization, each nation and each religion should examine not only their strengths but also their weaknesses,” Nghe said, adding, “it is important to look at past wrongdoing because this will help further consolidate a person's strengths so as to achieve fulfillment.”
Noted Ngha, “Over the last two centuries, patriotic and philanthropic people, including communists, who have fought for liberation, justice, equality, and against racism and religious discrimination, have been the first to foster criticism and self-criticism.”
Church observers noted that while opinions and comments about the Church appearing in Vietnam's state-run newspapers are extraordinary, commendations of Pope John Paul's acts are even more exceptional.
The Dollars and Cents of a Papal V isit
HA'ARETZ — Following the Pope's recent visit to the Holy Land, the Jerusalem daily reported on how the Pope's pilgrimage affected Israel's bottom line.
According to the report, the Pope's visit and the pilgrims who came in his wake generated some $50 million for the Israeli economy, with half of that amount going to Israeli airlines.
Next in line were the hotels, which generated $11 million in revenues. Pilgrims spent $6 million on food. The national bus carrier also benefited from the influx of tourists, generating some $2.4 million.
It cost the state of Israel some $3.6 million to prepare for the Pope's visit.
Vendors in Nazareth complained that the 20,000-30,000 pilgrims who streamed through their city during the week of the papal visit brought packed lunches with them and so did not spend “a dime” in Nazareth.
Crucifixes, skullcaps, menorahs and prayer shawls topped the souvenir list for the visitors, said the article. Still, the real effect of the Pope's visit on the Israeli economy has yet to be seen.
“Two months from now we will know if tourists are looking to go to places that the Pope visited,” Ha'aretz quoted Tiberias Mayor Benny Kiriati as saying. “As of now it cost us thousands of shekels more than it brought in. The volume of sewage and garbage was driven up by tourists with very small buying power.”