Media Watch

Bosnian Runs 35-Hour Marathon to Glimpse the Pope

REUTERS, June 23 — A Catholic runner began a grueling 35-hour run from his native town of Mostar to faraway Banja Luka on June 21 to see Pope John Paul II begin his apostolic visit to Bosnia, Reuters news service reported.

The runner, Aleksandar Gola, said he would make the run in honor of the Holy Father, who came to Bosnia-Herzegovina to beatify a lay Catholic and urge religious peace in the country that still is divided along sectarian lines.

“I know this will be a long journey. But my wish to touch the Holy Father is stronger than any fatigue,” Gola told a local newspaper before he set out.

A number of threats to the Pope's safety were reported by extreme nationalists in Banja Luka, the largest Orthodox Serb-dominated city in Bosnia, which still nurses memories of savage repression by Catholic Croats against Serbs during World War II.

“The biggest reward for me,” said Gola, running with an escort of an ambulance containing his son, “is that I am going to be among four people who will be given Communion by the Holy Father.”

1,000 Masses for the Pope

INDEPENDENT CATHOLIC NEWS, June 19 — More than 1,000 parishes around the world have promised to hold Masses of thanksgiving to mark the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's pontificate this October, according to the English news site Independent Catholic News. And the promise all began with a family in South London.

The Ryans of Croydon, South London, began a Web site months ago to track the celebration Masses parishes were planning for Oct. 16.

“We want to create a spiritual bouquet,” Patrick Ryan said. “We are hoping to ring the world in prayer on Oct. 16 with Masses starting in Fiji, followed by New Zealand and then each country doing likewise as the sun circles the Earth until it sets at the close of day off the west coast of Alaska.”

The Ryans already have commitments from churches on all five continents: from the Arctic to the Equator, China, Congo, Belarus and Israel, and there are still four months to go.

To register a parish for this event, visit

Pope Welcomes Staff of Hospital Named for His Brother

VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE, June 18 — While greeting Polish pilgrims after his general audience in St. Peter's Square on June 18, Pope John Paul II welcomed the staff of Powszechny Hospital in Bielsko-Biala, which has been renamed for the Pope's brother, Edmund Wojtyla.

As a young doctor, Edmund had worked in the hospital. He later caught scarlet fever from one of his patients and died at age 26 in 1932.

During his 1983 visit to Poland, John Paul recalled with emotion attending his brother's medical school graduation, which took place when then Karol Wojtyla was only 10 years old. The doctors from the hospital spoke of Edmund's dedication, kindness and sense of humor, noting that he used to tell jokes to cheer up his patients.