World Media Watch

China’s Catholics Feeling Optimistic

MSNBC.COM, April 11 — China’s Catholics are hopeful that the massive outpouring of grief for the late Pope John Paul II will provide momentum for talks leading to a normalization of ties between the Vatican and Beijing, the television network’s website reported.

China and the Holy See severed diplomatic relations in 1951 after Beijing expelled the last Vatican ambassador who then fled to Taiwan, in the wake of the communist revolution. The Vatican has continued to recognize the regime in Taiwan ever since.

China’s Roman Catholics, who recognize the Pope’s authority, typically worship in so-called “underground churches,” which are targets of periodic police crackdowns. According to the report, there are some 5.3 million registered followers of the Patriotic Catholic Church, while the Vatican estimates that some 10 million believers worship in underground house churches.

Soccer Fans in Scotland Jeer Pope

ASSOCIATED PRESS, April 10 — Fans at a Scottish Cup soccer game jeered during a minute’s silence for Pope John Paul II April 10, forcing the tribute to be cut short, the Associated Press reported.

The booing by Hearts fans came before the semifinal against Celtic, which has mostly Catholic fans. Referee Stuart Dougal ended the memorial less than halfway through because of the noise. The game was televised in Britain and overseas.

Hearts’ chief executive Phil Anderton criticized the fans’ conduct and apologized to Celtic and the Scottish Football Association.

“It is disturbing that some Hearts fans failed to see the significance of this occasion,” he said. “There is no room for that sort of behavior in the game.”

Patriarch Hopes Ties With Vatican Continue to Improve

VOICE OF AMERICA, April 13 — The head of the Russian Orthodox Church is praying the new pope will continue to improve relations between the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches, Voice of America reported.

Patriarch Alexy, 75, made the comment in an interview with Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper. The Holy Father held out hope for unification of the Eastern and Western Churches till the day he died.

He expressed respect for the late Pope John Paul II, saying the lat Pope “applied a lot of efforts to remind the modern European civilization about its Christian origin. It is also important that despite his severe illness, he took care of his congregation till the very last days of his earthly life.”

The report stated that the Russian Orthodox Church prevented Pope John Paul II from fulfilling a long-held dream of visiting Russia — where there are more than half a million Catholics — because it was worried Rome was trying to poach Orthodox followers.