Indonesian Executions Halted After Plea from Pope

THE UNIVERSE, Aug. 15 — Indonesian authorities have postponed the execution of three Catholics found guilty of the sectarian murder of 200 Muslims following an intervention from the Pope, the British newspaper reported.

Hours after an appeal by Pope Benedict XVI, Indonesian officials issued a last-minute stay of execution for Fabianus Tibo, 60, Dominggus da Silva, 39, and Marinus Riwu, 48. No new date for the executions has yet been set.

The three were sentenced to death after being convicted in 2001 of murdering 200 Muslims in May-June 2000 in the Poso area, in Central Sulawesi, during a period of Christian-Muslim violence.

The Vatican this week released the text of a telegram sent to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, signed by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state. In the Pope’s name, Cardinal Sodano asked Yudhoyono to intervene “on humanitarian grounds ... in order that an act of clemency might be granted to these three Catholic citizens of your nation.”

Pope Wants to Visit a Peaceful Holy Land

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Aug. 15 — Pope Benedict says he does not feel strong enough to take many long trips but that he would like to travel to a peaceful Holy Land, Associated Press reported.

In a wide-ranging, 35-minute interview with German television broadcast Aug. 13 (see article on this page), the Holy Father spoke of Europe’s role in Christianity, secularization in the Western world, and the growing importance of churches in Africa and Latin America.

The Pope also offered some insight into his own personality and ministry, saying being pope is “really tiring” and that it is important to “see the funny side of life.”

He said, “I have to say that I’ve never felt strong enough to plan many long trips.”

Papal Envoy: All Must Work Together for Peace

AGI, Aug. 16 — Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, president emeritus of the Papal Council of Justice and Peace, said all forces of peace must be deployed if the truce between Isreal and Hezbollah is to take lasting hold in the Middle East, the Italian news agency reported.

The cardinal finished his visit as a special envoy of the Pope in Lebanon, where he spoke with the religious and political authorities to bring the concrete and spiritual solidarity of Benedict XVI to “that population” and to “all those who suffer in the Middle East.”

The Holy See issued a press release saying that the cardinal met the Lebanese president, prime minister and the vice president of the Shia Higher Council Aug. 14, then met with the Republic’s grand mufti, the Maronite Patriarch and visited the Caritas main office in Lebanon.

Cardinal Etchegaray said that the path is “long and steep,” but that it is also a spiritual path. “No effort will hold if it is not supported by the peace of spirits and hearts.” He said only submission to God can fight the evil “that holds men marked by blind and suicidal violence.”