From Bruce Johnston in Rome
MADELINE Albright, the US Secretary of State, flew from Tokyo to Rome on Monday, in what was said to be an attempt to involve the Vatican in plans to revive the Middle East peace process.
Her visit, during which she met with the Vatican foreign minister Mgr Jean Louis Tauran, underlined the priority President Bill Clinton continues to give to the process.
But while her declared intention was to brief Mgr Tauran on the failed Camp David talks, her real aim was said to be to draw the Pope's representatives into future discussions.
Ms Albright, who substituted Mr Clinton as mediator at Camp David during his attendance of the G8 summit in Okinawa, was keen for the Vatican to intercede with the Palestinians, with whom it was on good terms.
The purpose, sources said, was for the Vatican to try to convince the Palestinians to make some concessions in the interests of peace.
In a move which had made an impact in Washington, the Pope used his first appearance after returning from holiday last week to renew his call for Jerusalem to be given special international status.
He said that it was the Vatican's conviction that "only an internationally-guaranteed special status" could "really preserve the holiest parts of the city," and ensure religious freedom. He urged those taking part in the Camp David talks to not overlook the "importance of the spiritual dimension of the City of Jerusalem, with its holy places and communities of three monotheistic religions.
Intent is a sin, claims mag
THE I ISE of prenatal tests with a view to abortion could be a sin, a magazine controlled by the Vatican has said.
According to Famiglia Cristiana, such tests were only positive in that they "could contribute to the health of the foetus."
However, they risked being sinful when used with the intention to abort if defects were found in the child. "To have a project to interrupt a pregnancy, if the condition of the foetus is not that which is desired, is a sin in itself, even if the plan is never put into effect," wrote Don Antonio Sciortino, the editor.
However he conceded that to equate prenatal tests with abortion was "unrealistic."
Such tests were not in themselves a "violation of the principle of the sacredness of life," he observed, and could "contribute in an excellent way to promote a life that develops under the auspices of health."
Clothes firm sues Vatican
AN ITALIAN firm said it was taking the Vatican to court for allegedly failing to honour an agreement granting it the exclusive use of the Jubilee logo on casual clothing, writes Bruce Johnston in Rome.
The company, Compgnia Prozioni Giubileo (CPG), accused the Holy See Jubilee 2000 Committee of defaulting in a deal the two had entered together, whereby it was given the exclusive rights to the logo on T-shirts and other clothing items.
It said they had reached an agreement in December 1998 and the Vatican had asked for an advance of 3 billion lire (about 1 m) in the form of a guaranteed fninurnum share of profits, and 10 per cent of future royalties.
The company said that the sum was indicative of the profits expected from the deal, and added that in preliminary talks between the two sides, that the committee had "glorified" the initiative, It had, it said, "illustrated with great emphasis advertising plans, and the possiblity of being able to stipulate contracts for billions of lire with national and international companies."
Claiming that it had been led to believe that it could take "at least 30 billion lire" (about £10 million) because of the deal, the company said it wasted no time making "substantial" investments.
But it complained that the committee's own promises were not kept: the advertising campaign, it said, was never put into action; and exclusivity of the logo and other rights stipulated had not been honoured.The firm said that as a result it suffered "enormous" financial losses," to an extent that this had endangered other firms involved.
Shut up, says angry Pope
THE Pope called a crowd to order after the Angelus prayer Sunday, writes Bruce Johnston in Rome.
"Some patience, please," John Paul said firmly, bringing his hand down on his lectern at his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome. The crowd in the courtyard quietened down briefly, enabling the Pope to continue his greetings to different groups of pilgrims from around the world.
But the calm did not last long. The Pope was again interrupted before being able to end his address.