Vatican Media Watch

Pope Urges Christians to Avoid Temptations of Success

AGENZIA GIORNALISTICA ITALIA, Nov. 2 — Pope Benedict said that to be happy it is necessary “to follow a morally unexceptionable life, against any illusory alternative of success obtained via injustice and immorality,” the Italian news service reported.

The Holy Father exhorted the 30,000 faithful who attended his general audience in St. Peter's to accept the constant call of the prophets to side with the marginalized, supporting them with abundant aid.

He explained that for Christians, “loyalty to the divine word consists in fundamental choice, which is charity towards the poor and needy: respecting the biblical call to be generous towards the poor and to brothers and sisters in need, without self-interest or the usury that destroys the lives of the poor.”

Vatican Deplores Barbaric Act in Indonesia

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Oct. 31 — The Vatican called the beheading of three Indonesian girls from a Christian high school a barbaric act, and said that the Pope was praying for peace among the people of the region.

Unidentified assailants attacked a group of girls from a private Christian school in the tense province of Central Sulawesi, beheading three and seriously wounding another. Police said that one of the heads was left in front of a new Christian church and the others near a police station.

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation, but Central Sulawesi has a roughly equal number of Muslims and Christians. A sectarian war in the region in 2001 and 2002 killed about 1,000 people from both communities. Beheadings, burnings and other atrocities were common. The Government mediated a truce, but the killing of Christians resumed.

Joaquín Navarro-Valls, the Vatican spokesman, said: “The Holy Father charged Msgr. Joseph Theodorus Suwatan, bishop of Manado, to offer his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and the diocesan community.”

Vatican Condemns Iran President's Remarks

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, Oct. 29 — The Vatican condemned as “unacceptable” Irans President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statement that Israel should be wiped off the map, the French News agency reported.

“The grave events of the past days in the Holy Land have caused great concern in the Holy See, which in unison with the international community strongly condemns all acts of violence: the terrorist attack in Hadera [in northern Israel], the reprisals that followed, and particularly grave and unacceptable comments denying the right to existence of Israel,” said a Vatican statement.

Ahmadinejad told a conference Oct. 26 in Tehran entitled “The World Without Zionism” that “the establishment of the Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world. As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map,” he said, quoting Iran's late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

The Holy See “called on all leaders in the Middle East to listen to the ardent desire for peace and justice of their peoples, to avoid acts leading to division and death, and to engage with courage and determination to create the conditions necessary to resume dialogue, the only path to ensure a peace and prosperity for all children of this world.”

Pope slips out of Vatican, prays at shrine

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Oct. 30 — Pope Benedict XVI made an unannounced trip Oct. 29 to a shrine outside Rome that was beloved by Pope John Paul II, Associated Press reported.

Benedict celebrated Mass in honor of the Madonna during the “private pilgrimage” to the Mother of the Graces of Mentorella shrine, about 30 miles from Rome, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said. The previously unannounced visit fell on the 27th anniversary of the first time John Paul prayed at the shrine as Pope, the ANSA news agency reported.

The Polish-born John Paul had prayed at the shrine two days before his Oct. 16, 1978, election, and returned there on Oct. 29, 1978, as well as several more times during his pontificate.