By Bruce Johnston, Rome Correspondent Tim Pope this week renewed his appeal to the international community to lift the embargo against Iraq, which he said was "hitting all of the Iraqi people" and especially those who were weakest.
Speaking during a visit to the Vatican by the leadership of the Chaldean church led by the Patriarch Raphael Bidawid, the Pope remembered the "suffering of children, the elderly and infirm" in Iraq.
"More than once I have had the occasion to remind the international community that it has a duty to ensure that such an already weary people be spared new suffering," he said.
"Today I repeat this more strongly still. Everyone must do all they can to put an end to the suffering of so many civil victims."
A similar stand against the embargo was taken last Friday by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State, during the audience with the president of the Iraqi parliament, Saadoun Harnmadi.
Referring to their meeting, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the Vatican press spokesman, said that it "enabled a wide exchange of opinions about the situation in Iraq, with particular reference to the negative effect of the sanctions on the living conditions on the population".
TALKS between the Vatican and Russian Orthodox leaders to find a solution to problems blocking the Pope's visit to Moscow will begin, as expected, in the autumn.
The news was given by the Imetfat agency, which quoted a "authoritative source" saying that it had not been decided where the talks would be held.
President Vladimir Putin said during his visit to Italy last week that it was up to the Russian patriarch Alexei II to decide if and when a papal visit was opportune.
Alexei is said to have an evident esteem for the Pope. This was underlined by the latter's recent warm greetings which he sent John Paul II on his 80th birthday last month.
But the failure to iron out problems raised by the Orthodox claims of proselytism and over the Uniate or Eastern Rite Catholics and Orthodox believers in the Ukraine impeded a meeting between Alexei and the Pope in Austria two years ago.
Falling plaster shocks visitors
VISITORS AT the Vatican Museums' new entrance got a scare last week when a piece of plaster ceiling near the ticket booths fell to the floor, injuring no one but creating panic and confusion.
Officials shut the new entrance's enormous bronze doors for 10 minutes and sealed off the area of the accident. When the museum reopened, museum-goers were redirected through the old entrance, which since February has served solely as an exit.
The new entrance will be closed for an indefinite period as experts assess the damage and repair the ceiling, Cristina Gennaccari, a museum spokesman said.
Busy Pope to relax in Alps
POPE JOHN PAUL 11 will take his vacation in the Italian Alps from July 10 to 22, the Vatican announced last week, The Pope will leave Rome after the Jubilee for prisoners on July 9, and travel to Vallee d'Aoste, where he has spent his summer vacation on seven previous occasions.
This year, however, the Pope will not stay in a mountain chalet, as he has in previous years: instead he will stay at a diocesan building which has just been completed.
The mark of the Trinity
THE text of Pope John Paul H's weekly audience given at St Peter's, Rome, on Wednesday, June 7, 2000: DEAR BROTHERS and Sisters, In our Jubilee catechesis on the Trinity, we reflect today on the traces of the three divine Persons in man,
The gift of life establishes the fundamental link between the Creator and the human being.
The first gift is our physical and historical life: God creates every human being in his own image and likeness.
The second gift is our supernatural life, which the New Testament describes in terms of "eternal life", "new creation" and "the life of God's children". These terms express the communion of life with the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit, which is brought about in us through the gift of divine grace.