Vatican Media Watch

Vatican May Declare John Paul II a Martyr

ASSOCIATED PRESS, July 1 — Vatican officials no longer are dismissing outright the notion that Pope John Paul II could be declared a martyr, the Associated Press reported.

Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said it was up to groups of theological experts to decide if the May 13, 1981, attempt on John Paul's life — as well as his long, public suffering before he died — warranted a declaration of martyrdom.

“In a technical, theological, juridical and canonical sense, the martyr gives his life for the faith,” Cardinal Martins said in response to questions at a news conference, according to the Apcom news agency.

“`We have to verify the motive for the attempt on the life of [Karol] Woytyla. And this will be the work of theologians.”

According to AP, Cardinal Camillo Ruini stated, “John Paul truly spilled his blood in St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981, and then again, not just his blood but he offered his life during the long years of his illness.”

Pope Benedict Accepts an Invitation to Israel

AKI, July 6 — Pope Benedict XVI said visiting Israel was a “priority” after accepting an invitation to visit the country from Israeli premier Ariel Sharon, the news agency AKI reported.

“I have already a long list of commitments to visit foreign countries, but Israel has a priority,” Israeli communications minister, Dalia Itzik, quoted the Pope as saying, in an Israeli radio report. Benedict XVI received stamps marking the visit of the late John Paul II to the Holy Land and the Church's upcoming World Youth Day in Cologne during meetings at the Vatican with Itzik and Germany's finance minister, Hans Eichel.

According to the report, Itzik used the opportunity to present Benedict XVI, who was elected Pope in April, with a letter from Sharon inviting the Holy Father to visit Israel, said Oded Ben-Hur, Israel's ambassador to the Holy See.

Follow-Up to Exorcism Class Offered

ASSOCIATED PRESS, July 12 — To help priests combat a growing interest in Satanism, Regina Apostolorum University is offering a follow-up to a course on exorcism given earlier this year, the Associated Press reported.

The new course, which will start in October, will explore biblical, theological, historical and legal aspects of satanism. Exorcists will give the last lesson in February.

University officials said fascination with Satanism is on the upswing and priests need “solid preparation” for it. Officials said recent crimes related to Satanism show it's a problem that's often underestimated.

When the first course began, Italy was gripped by the ritual satanic deaths of three people, including a 19-year-old allegedly stabbed to death because her killers believed she personified the Virgin Mary. The report said two rock band members were later convicted of murder.