Media Watch

Israel to Resolve Visa Problem, Vatican Reports

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Sept. 15 — After months of complaints from Church officials about delays in obtaining visas for Arab clergy, Israel assured the Vatican in early September that the issue will be resolved.

Church officials in Jerusalem said the delays have undermined Church operations in the Holy Land, the Associated Press reported. Israel's interior minister Avraham Poraz met with Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Angelo Sodano before Poraz traveled to Castel Gandolfo, Italy, for talks with Pope John Paul II.

Poraz gave assurances “of having given the necessary instructions for a satisfactory solution” to the visa situation, the cardinal said in a statement issued after the meeting. The statement also said the two discussed negotiations regarding the tax status of the Church in Israel, the wire service reported.

Earlier this year, Israel's interior ministry said Arab visa applications were undergoing special scrutiny, resulting in some of the delays.

French Catholics Help Pay for Pope's Trip

REUTERS, Sept. 17 — A large deficit left after Pope John Paul II's visit to Lourdes, France, in August has already been paid off by contributions from local faithful.

Pilgrims eager to get good seats for the Pope's outdoor Mass on Aug. 15 rushed past the collection boxes, leaving only about $247,000 in contributions, Reuters reported. Officials had hoped to solicit contributions from those in the long lines outside the shrine grounds, but many passed through security without noticing the collection boxes. Shrine officials soon discovered they had $1.6 million left to pay to cover the Holy Father's trip.

Bishop Jacques Perrier of Lourdes appealed to the local faithful for the funds and said he had no doubt they would come through, the wire service reported. “Today, the deficit is covered. What a relief,” shrine officials said in a statement Sept. 17, noting that thousands of people sent in checks with an average contribution of about $100.

Remember Human Dignity, Pope Tells Bankers

CATHNEWS.COM, Sept. 20 — Bankers should be motivated to uphold the “higher values of human living” and not be guided solely by profit, Pope John Paul II told an audience of bankers Sept. 17.

“Your presence in society can become an instrument of true progress,” the Holy Father told 25 representatives of the Italian banking group Capitalia, “offering support for valid initiatives of individuals and groups who come to you for their legitimate financial and economic needs.”

According to, John Paul's remarks were a summary of ideas in his 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus (On the Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum), where he noted “the legitimate role of profit as an indication that a business is functioning well.”

“But profitability is not the only indicator of a firm's condition,” the encyclical said. “It is possible for the financial accounts to be in order and yet for the people — who make up the firm's most valuable asset — to be humiliated and their dignity offended.”