Media Watch

Pope to Meet With Muslims in Bulgaria Next May

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE Nov. 1 — The Vatican has accepted an invitation for Pope John Paul II to visit Bulgaria in May, said Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passi.

The trip, the Pope's first to the nation, is to take place in the second half of May 2002 and is to include a meeting with Islamic religious leaders in the country.

Passi expressed hope that the papal visit will help “erase the stain on Bulgaria's name” in connection with Turkish terrorist Mehmet Ali Agca's 1981 papal assassination attempt. Italian officials charged three Bulgarians with organizing Agca's attempt to kill the Pope after the gunman implicated them. But the three were later acquitted for lack of evidence.

Agca, pardoned by Italy after nearly 20 years in prison, is now serving a 10-year prison term in Turkey for the 1979 murder of a newspaper editor there, and another seven years for robbery.

Vatican Newspaper Criticizes Belgium on Law

DE STANDARD, Oct. 30 — L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, has criticized Belgium as the Senate there voted 44-23 to legalize euthanasia.

“Belgium, the country where King Baudouin chose to give up his sovereignty rather than sign an abortion act, seems on its way to becoming the second European country where doctors are no longer asked 'to cure but to kill,’” the Vatican newspaper wrote. The legislation must still be passed by the Chamber of Representatives, where changes are certain to be proposed.

Two Resign from Vatican Holocaust Panel

THE JERUSALEM POST, Nov. 2 — Two Jewish members of the Catholic-Jewish commission appointed to study the role of the Vatican during the Nazi Holocaust have resigned.

One member, Robert Wistrich, a professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said he felt resignation was his only option in the face of the Vatican's refusal to open all of its World War II-era archives to commission members. Bernard Suchecky of the Free University of Brussels also resigned.

The two resignations make it unlikely that the commission will be able to continue, the Israeli daily said. Msgr. Pietro Sambi, the papal nuncio to Israel, said that to resign from a commission whose work has already been suspended serves no useful purpose other than propaganda.

Taiwan Offers to Help Holy See Promote Religious Freedom

BRITISH BROADCASTING CORP. Oct. 26 — Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reminding the Vatican that Mainland China remains an “autocratic government” which continues to deny religious freedom, offered to help the Holy See promote such freedom in the People's Republic.

The ministry also commended Pope John Paul for his recent statements on the “errors” of some Western missionaries in China.