Pope John Paul II and the Church

By Peter Hebblethwaite | Go to book overview
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So Rome and Italy are in the hands of Ruini while the rest of the church depends on Sodano.

Meantime, John Paul contemplates fresh journeys. The Jan. 8 ecumenical prayer meeting at Assisi is all that survives of a bold but unrealizable plan to meet in Sarajevo.

A six-hour visit to Khartoum in the Sudan has been tacked on to the end of the next Africa trip to Uganda in February; it is not clear what good, if any, it will do to the persecuted Christians in the south of the country.

The Baltic republics are scheduled for September. Beyond that Moscow still tantalizingly beckons and, the supreme goal, Jerusalem.

In Assisi, religious leaders deplore cruelties

( January 22, 1993) Dare one say it? For the first time in his pontificate, Pope John Paul II was upstaged by another speaker.

At the vigil for prayer and penance at Assisi Jan. 9, Ra'is ul Ulama Jakub Selimoski, religious leader of the Bosnian Muslims, delivered a powerful indictment of the Serbian onslaught on his people.

Standing alongside John Paul in the Basilica of St. Francis, beneath Giotto's frescoes of the life of the saint who tried to stop a crusade, Selimoski rehearsed the grim statistics of Serbian aggression: "200,000 Muslims exterminated; 100,000 in concentration camps; 35,000 women raped (including seven over 80); 650 mosques destroyed or ruined."

These crimes make a mockery, said Selimoski, of "all Europe's claims to civilization, its democratic declarations, its humanistic achievements, its respect for human rights and liberty."

"How can such a Europe," he angrily asked, "allow an entire nation to disappear, and how can it wash its hands, with tranquillity and indifference, of this problem, adopting only ineffectual solutions?"


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