Vatican Notes & Quotes

A Brief Tour of Vatican City

The shooting incident in Vatican City brought a flood of attention to the world's smallest independent state.

An AP story listed these facts about Vatican City on May 3:

• In the heart of Rome, it has a population of 1,000 in its 100 acres. “It has its own flag, coins, postage stamps, radio station, library, pharmacy, and train station” and is “one of the greatest repositories of art in the world,” including many works by world masters.

• It includes: St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums, the papal apartments, offices and bedrooms for many employees and officials, a private hotel, tapestry workshops, printing presses, and the offices of several pontifical institutions.

Israel Wants to Send Jesus' Boat to the Vatican

The Vatican and Israel, when looked at one way, are the centers of the world's two greatest religions, enjoying increasingly friendly relations. When looked at another way, they are competitors for tourists.

The Israel Antiquities Authority takes the first view. They want to transfer a boat that Jesus is said to have owned from the Holy Land to the Vatican for exhibition there in the Jubilee Year 2000, according to a May 3 report in the Israel Business Arena.

Israel's ministry of tourism takes the second view, and argues that Jesus' boat “constitutes a significant component of the tour route for pilgrims in the region,” said the report.

Tourism director Shabtai Shai, in a letter to antiquities director Amir Drori, said that to send a tourist attraction away during a recession is unwise — particularly when it is being sent “to a ‘competitor’ in the tourism industry…. Are we trying to encourage tourist visits to the Vatican?” Drori supports the gesture of lending the boat.

U.S. News Cover Story Praises Pope

In a cover story entitled “The Next Pope,” U.S. News and World Report (May 11) had much praise of the current Holy Father, John Paul II. It said his pontificate “has been full of historic significance” with his 82 overseas trips making tremendous headway against the greatest forces in our time, including communism and consumerism.

The magazine touched on his accomplishments in doctrinal and spiritual matters also. He has drawn the largest crowds in history, to hear his sermons in a time when his doctrines are supposed to be unpopular.

Archbishop Theodore McCarrick of Newark, N.J., was quoted saying, “I've had great fun with the Holy Father…. We always joke about things, and that is a sign of astute intellect and lucidity.”

Quoting the Pope, the article sums up the work of John Paul II this way: “‘Do not be afraid!’ the Polish Pontiff declared reassuringly to an anxious Church at his 1978 inauguration. ‘Open wide the doors for Christ. To his saving power open the boundaries of states, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization, and development.’ It was a prescient admonition that set both a tone and an agenda for his papacy through two tumultuous decades.”