Media Watch

Vatican Discusses Iraqi Peace Conference Prospects

BRITISH BROADCASTING CORP., Oct. 4 — Vatican Secretary of State Giovanni Lajolo said if a proposed peace conference on Iraq is to be successful, the Iraqi government must agree to it, the countries involved must forge a genuine “coalition of peacemakers” to help Iraq, and the conference's agenda must be short and specific.

Archbishop Lajolo made his comments in an Oct. 1 interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, BBC's international press-monitoring service reported.

The archbishop said U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's proposal for an Iraq peace conference was “reasonable,” so long as it had the support of the Iraqi government and of other countries that are sincerely seeking peace in the country.

In the interview, Archbishop Lajolo expressed concern about the exodus of Iraqi Christians fleeing religious persecution by Muslim fanatics.

“We should not forget that there have been Christians in Iraq since the beginning of Christianity — in other words, for centuries even before Islam existed — thus they cannot be considered to be an expression of foreign Western culture in the country,” he said. “But they now need increased international solidarity.”

Greek Orthodox Leader Seeks Approval to Meet Pope

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Oct. 6 — Archbishop Christodoulos, leader of the Greek Orthodox Church, has asked the church's governing synod to support a proposed visit to the Vatican.

The visit, which would reciprocate Pope John Paul II's historic pilgrimage to Greece in 2001, is fiercely opposed by anti-Catholic factions within the Greek Orthodox Church. No date has been set for a possible trip, the Associated Press reported.

Greek Orthodox leaders who support Archbishop Christodoulos' request credited John Paul's pilgrimage with opening the path to reconciliation. During his visit, the Holy Father apologized for “sins of action and omission” by Catholics against Orthodox Christians, including the sacking of Constantinople in 1204 by crusaders.

“Divisions only lead to disasters,” said Metropolitan Apostolos, the AP reported. “The Pope came to Athens and apologized for the holy wars. What more do you want?”

Replacement Named for Disgraced Austrian Bishop

DEUTSCHE PRESSE-AGENTUR, Oct. 5 — Bishop Klaus Kung of Feldkirch, Austria, who was tapped this summer by the Vatican to investigate a sex scandal at Austria's St. Polten seminary, will become St. Polten's new bishop, the German news service reported.

In July, Austrian newspapers published photos of seminary staff in compromising positions with seminarians. It was also disclosed that police had discovered a cache of thousands of pornographic pictures, including child pornography, on seminary computers.

After his appointment by the Vatican as apostolic visitor, Bishop Kung moved decisively to clean up the scandal, ordering the seminary closed permanently in early August.

Bishop Kurt Krenn of St. Polten, who initially downplayed the compromising photos as a boyish prank, resigned in late September after a trip to the Vatican.

Responding to German press reports that he had been named as Bishop Krenn's successor, Bishop Kung said Oct. 5, ”If the Holy Father wants it, I cannot say No.”

Added Bishop Kung, “Life is a pilgrimage.”

The Earth is Not Our Mother

“The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate.”—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy