John Paul Still Hopes to Visit Iraq
“We hope so,” Sodano told reporters at a press conference who asked him about the trip. “It's in our prayers.”
The biblical birthplace of Abraham is in modern-day Iraq, and the Holy Father has expressed his desire to visit this landmark of salvation history as part of the Jubilee Year 2000 celebrations.
Meanwhile, Reuters had reported Dec. 18 that the Pope had to cancel meetings the Friday before Christmas because of the flu — though he still registered his reaction to the bombing of Iraq by U.S. and British forces that had recently begun.
The slight bout with the flu was not expected to affect the Pope's schedule for many days, according to the report. But it did postpone a scheduled meeting with the head of the Arab League, a meeting where the Pope was expected to give a more detailed reaction to the bombing of Iraq.
Reuters reported that the Vatican's chief spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the Pope was “saddened” by the bombing, and the report noted that the Vatican had described the bombing of Iraqi sites as “aggression.”
The Dec. 21 New York Post quoted comments the Pope made at an audience on Saturday, Dec. 19: “Not only do I feel profound sorrow for the Iraqi people, but I am also bitter to see how often the hopes invested in the power and validity of international law and in the organizations meant to guarantee its application are disappointed,” he was quoted saying.
He added that the proximity of the attacks to Christmas made the suffering of Iraqis even worse, according to the British Broadcasting Service in a Dec. 20 report.
Pope Outselling McGwire in St. Louis
ST. LOUIS BUSINESS JOURNAL, Dec. 21—In America respect is all too often best measured by merchandise. In many St. Louis stores, retailers focusing on Christmas sales have not yet stocked items featuring Pope John Paul II, said a report in the St. Louis Business Journal. But in those who have, the Pope, who has planned a visit to the city this January, is driving high sales.
“The Pope is so hot that Mark McGwire goods were moved from the front of Sportsprint stores to make room for papal items, including sweatshirts, T-shirts, polo shirts, jackets, caps, and tote bags,” said the report. It quoted a vice president of the chain saying that it expected to make more than half a million dollars from sales of Pope-related items.
Another store, Catholic Supply, is offering about a dozen items that it has found to be popular as well, according to a store spokeswoman.
All the money making will have a helpful side-effect in the Archdiocese, said its spokesman, Steve Mamanella. Merchandisers holding licenses will contribute an amount equal to 5% of production costs to the Church in St. Louis.
But the Archdiocese itself does not intend to join in the selling. “The archdiocese isn't using this as an opportunity to make money. We are not retailers,” said Mamanella.
The Pope's Week
Thursday, Dec. 17:
• Bishop Javier Echevarria Rodriguez, Opus Dei prelate.
• Lech Walesa, accompanied by his wife and entourage.
• Archbishop Jorge Maria Mejia, archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church.
• Paul Cardinal Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
Monday, Dec. 21:
• Archbishop Angelo Acerbi, apostolic nuncio in the Netherlands.
• Archbishop Donato Squicciarini, apostolic nuncio in Austria.
Wednesday, Dec. 23:
• Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, with his secretary and under-secretary.
Saturday, Dec. 19:
• Appointed Bishop Giulio Sanguineti as bishop of Brescia, Italy.
• Appointed Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, of Newark, N.J., Bishop Piotr Jarecki, auxiliary bishop of Warsaw, Poland, Dagoberto Valdes of Cuba, and Renata Livraghy of Italy as members of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
Tuesday, Dec. 22:
• Appointed Father Franz Dietl as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Munich and Freising, Germany.