Powell in talks with Pontiff
US SECRETARY of State Colin Powell met the Pope this week in a top-level meeting to discuss the aftermath of the Iraq war.
Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini, a Vatican spokesman, said Powell met the Pope and then held a separate meeting with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, and other Vatican diplomatic officials.
On the table was post-war reconstruction efforts in Iraq, as well as renewed American efforts to push forward a peace plan between Israelis and Palestinians, which the Vatican sees as the chief priority in achieving lasting peace in the region.
Although the Vatican opposed the Iraq war, it welcomed its rapid conclusion and offered the help of the Church there with reconstruction and humanitarian efforts.
Last month, the Pope sent his senior humanitarian official to Iraq to lay the groundwork for a concerted Church effort to provide aid.
Before the American-led invasion of Iraq, the pope said war was "always a defeat for humanity" arid sent personal envoys to the then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and President George W Bush in an effort to avert the conflict.
Hours ahead of the first air strikes on Iraq, Mr Powell telephoned Archbishop JeanLouis Taiwan, the Vatican's equivalent of foreign minister.
Mr Powell said he told the archbishop that the United States appreciated the Pope's concern, but thought failure to take military action would have even worse consequences.
Peter's tomb founder dies
THE MAN behind the discovery of the tomb and bones of St Peter, the first pope, has died.
Antonio Ferrua, a Jesuit archaeologist, was 102.
He led the excavation of the grottoes under St Peter's Basilica in 1940. Uncovered was a tomb declared to be that of St Peter. Later, bones found at the site were declared to be those of Peter, although Ferrua doubted they were.
Ferrua was described as a "scholar of great rigour, who has never been touched by an ideological interference",
Arms 'threat to world peace'
A LEADING Vatican official has said global arms production remains a constant threat to world peace and a major factor in the continuing poverty of developing countries.
Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican's foreign minister, made the remarks at a conference on "The Church and the International Order" at Rome's Gregorian University on May 24.
He said the Vatican's historic position on international peace issues was that dialogue must be favoured over conflict and that "violence generates violence". For that reason, the Church has strongly opposed the huge increase in weapons production and sales over the past 50 years, in particular the production and stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction.
Germany holds ecumenical day
GERMAN Christians have held their first ever ecumenical day.
The event included roundtable discussions, debates and conferences, as well as prayer, Masses and other church services.
The executive council of the Catholic bishops' conference said the event was encouraging for the faith in Germany. Among the guests were Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, apostolic nuncio to Germany.
Spread Gospel, Pope urges
POPE JOHN Paul II has encouraged the Church's evangelisation officials to spread the Gospel in every country, breaking down every cultural, racial and ethnic barrier, in order to achieve effective evangelisation, but without reducing the message of the Gospel.
Speaking to a meeting of participants in the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, the Pope said: "We need an integral formation, capable of preparing competent and holy evangelisers for the depth of their mission."
The need for formation extended in a special way to the increasing number of lay people working in mission areas, including more than 2.5 million catechists, he said,
THE ENGLISH summary of Pope John Paul II's weekly general audience, given at St Peter's on Wednesday, May 28, 2003.
"Dear brothers and sisters, Psalm 107 (108) is a song of praise to God and a plea for his help. The psalm, which repeats sections of two earlier psalms, is an example of Israel's constant use of God's inspired word to express her faith.
"The psalm celebrates the Lord's 'love' and his 'truth', the everlasting mercy and fidelity which he shows to his people. The psalmist prays that God will arise above the heavens and reveal his glory to earth.
"An early Christian interpretation saw this verse as a prophecy about Jesus Christ, who at his crucifixion was lifted up from the earth in order to reveal God's glory and to bring salvation to the world."