Media Watch

Mobile Pope Phone for Brits

INDEPENDENT CATHOLIC NEWS, Dec. 23 — Every day, the Holy See Press Office sends out a papal Thought for the Day based on Pope John Paul II's homilies, speeches or other messages to cell-phone users around the world.

The service has been available for some time in Italy and will soon begin in the United Kingdom, according to Independent Catholic News.

The cell-phone company Acotel has contracted with the Holy See Press Office in Rome to provide the service, which can be activated by sending the text message “Pope On” to the phone company.

“Since the service was made available in Ireland, we have received several enquiries and seen a high level of interest from the U.K. about if or when the papal Thought for the Day would be available,” said Ciaran Carey of Acotel. “I am delighted now to be in a position to answer that question and say that it is available.”

Berlusconi Denies Predicting Vatican Attack

REUTERS, Dec. 28 — A controversy is brewing in Italy over whether or not Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi actually told a journalist he had solid information about a planned terror attack on the Vatican on Christmas, Reuters reported.

The Milan paper Libero published an interview Dec. 27 quoting Berlusconi claiming he'd received “precise and verified news of an attack on Rome on Christmas Day … a hijacked plane above the Vatican … an attack from the sky.”

Within hours of the story's appearance, Berlusconi denied ever making the statements to the paper, which is considered conservative and friendly to the prime minister.

There were no incidents at the Vatican on Christmas or any reports of attempted attacks, Reuters noted.

The British newspaper The Guardian quoted Rome mayor Walter Veltroni, who said he received a similar warning.

“Many of us spent the afternoon of Dec. 24 working,” Veltroni said, “but without feeling the need to reveal things it had been agreed should remain confidential.”

Russian Patriarch Wary of Welcoming John Paul

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Dec. 28 — Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow is not yet ready to welcome Pope John Paul II to Russia, a country the Pope has long wished to visit, the Associated Press reported.

The Russian Orthodox leader insists relations between the churches must improve, by which he means Rome must curtail the rights and activities of Eastern-rite Catholics in Ukraine and Latin-rite Catholics in Russia.

“Our meeting with the Pope may take place only if the problems that have clouded the relationship between our churches are overcome,” Patriarch Alexei told the newspaper Gazeta.

The patriarch accused the Catholic groups, which are in communion with Rome, of increasing “their expansion into traditionally Orthodox eastern and southern Ukraine,” adding, “To our deep regret, there are still not enough grounds to speak about changes in the Vatican's position and any positive improvements in Orthodox-Catholic dialogue.”