Vatican Update
[MAR. 28, 2000]
Catholic World News Service




VATICAN ( -- Although the Vatican has been relatively quiet
this week, after the intense activity surrounding a papal trip to the Holy
Land, Italian journalists have been busy appraising the impact of the Pope's

Pope John Paul II himself has plunged back into his regular work schedule at
the Vatican. Papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told reporters on March
28 that the Pontiff has shown no signs of fatigue, despite the heavy schedule
of the trip. On Monday, March 26-- his first day back in the Vatican-- the
Pontiff met with the Secretariat of State, and held a private audience with
8,000 Italian pilgrims. He then began work preparing for his regular
Wednesday public audience, at which-- following his usual practice-- he will
give a public accounting of his trip to the Holy Land. Navarro-Valls also said
that the Pope is "very satisfied" with the results of his voyage.

Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, the head of the Vatican committee coordinating
the Jubilee, said that the Pope's pilgrimage was "the summit of 20 years of
this pontificate." Cardinal Etchegaray, who accompanied the Pope throughout
the trip, said that he was struck by the "energy and spiritual power of the
Pope" during the trip. As for the long-term impact of the Pope's visit, the
French-born cardinal suggested that John Paul had "touched the religious
heart of the Jews," and helped to overcome "an often false image" of
Catholicism among the Jewish people.

Rabbi David Rosen, the director of the Anti-Defamation League, confirmed
that suggestion when he told reporters: "The Pope's visit opened a door, and
there are many Jews who have discovered a rich garden inside, of which
they had been unaware." The rabbi told the Italian daily Avvenire that while
the Pope voiced his sorrow over the mistreatment of Jews by Christians, his
dramatic visit also helped "to inform the Jews, to educate them, to make
them remember the many forward steps that the Catholic Church has taken
on behalf of Jews and against anti-Semitism, particularly over the past 35
years" since Vatican II.