Vatican Media Watch

John Paul Skips Weekly Audience

ASSOCIATED PRESS, March 2 — Pope John Paul II skipped his Wednesday weekly audience with the faithful while concentrating on regaining his ability to speak and continuing to work on church matters from his hospital suite in Rome, reported the Associated Press.

The Holy See said there would be no substitute for the Holy Father for the public audience, which usually draws thousands of pilgrims and is held in winter in a Vatican auditorium or, in good weather, in St. Peter’s Square, the report said.

On March 1, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said the Holy Father spoke to him in German and Italian and was “able to say the essential things with his voice.”  There has been concern whether the Pope could regain his speech after the Feb. 24 surgery to insert a breathing tube in his throat.

Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told reporters that he gave John Paul material to review and that the “fully mentally alert” Pope would work on the papers in his 10th-floor hospital apartment.

Souvenir Market Reflects Holy Father’s Absence

REUTERS, March 2 — Pope John Paul’s stay in hospital, and his absence from the Vatican, is hitting sales of trinkets and keepsakes which usually enjoy a roaring trade around St Peter’s Square, souvenir sellers said, Reuters reported.

While pilgrims from as far away as Poland and the United States gathered outside the Gemelli hospital hoping to catch a glimpse of the Holy Father, who is recovering from a throat operation, the Vatican City remained relatively quiet, said the report.

“The Pope’s presence is important — more people come and we work more,” said one street merchant on who sells rosaries, postcards and pillboxes embossed with images of St. Peter’s Basilica in front of the massive church.

Usually Wednesdays, like Sundays, bring a busy trade from Catholics who come to hear the John Paul’s weekly general audience, the wire service said, but the lack of people meant a drop in sales said the hawker, who gave Reuters the name Remo.

“Without the Pope, we don’t work. We don’t make any sales on Wednesdays and Sundays because there are no audiences,” Remo said. “You’ve got to have the Pope.”

Pope’s Presence Alone Says Plenty

ASSOCIATED PRESS, March 2 — A German cardinal told AP that he expected Pope John Paul II to visit his country as planned even if he can’t talk, stressing the Holy Father’s presence alone “says a lot.”

Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne met John Paul in his room at Rome’s Gemelli hospital, and said the 84-year-old Pope greeted him with “I’m happy to see you here.”

Cardinal Meisner said the Holy Father would bring a powerful spiritual presence to Germany if he makes his only scheduled foreign trip of the year for World Youth Day gathering Aug. 15-21. The report stated that the Vatican also has encouraged the idea the Pope will make the journey if his health permits.

“All Germans are waiting for the Pope in Cologne,” Meisner said. “It’s not important that the Pope speak with the many, many young people, but it’s his presence that’s important.’’


Edward Reginald Frampton, “The Voyage of St. Brendan,” 1908, Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, Wisconsin.

Which Way Is Heaven?

J.R.R. Tolkien’s mystic west was inspired by the legendary voyage of St. Brendan, who sailed on a quest for a Paradise in the midst and mists of the ocean.