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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 05-04-03

The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] The Pope in God's Hands
  • [02] A Few Words about the Pope
  • [03] Sailing as Normal
  • [04] Bitter Honey
  • [05] Fatal Accident in the Philippines
  • [06] Three Dead in Ship Collision

  • [01] Catholics everywhere in mourning The Pope in God's Hands

    03 Apr 2005 00:33:00 (Last updated: 03 Apr 2005 13:16:12)

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    A worldwide outpouring of emotion and deep mourning amongst Catholics everywhere. On Saturday night at 22.37 Greek time, Pope John Paul II passed away at the age of 84, after a long-term illness. Bells in Rome are tolling the citys grief, while millions of Catholic faithful all over the world are grieving the loss of their spiritual father. In the meantime, dozens of Cardinals and ordinary Catholics from all corners of the world are flocking to the Italian capital in order to attend the funeral, which will last for nine days and end with the election of the new leader of the Catholic Church by the 120 members of the College of Cardinals. Political and religious leaders expressed their condolences on the death of John Paul II.

    Deep Sorrow

    Catholics are in mourning for John Paul II, the first non-Catholic Pope for the last 455 years.

    Tens of thousands of the faithful gathered in St Peters Square in Rome, in Poland and in many other parts of the world in order to pray and honour the departed pastor of a billion faithful around the world

    Rome is preparing to welcome the tens of thousands of the faithful who will flood the city over the next few days. Near the Vatican, ambulances have already started to appear, while increased frequency of public transport means stopping at St Peters has been announced.

    Deep sorrow was expressed by the Ecumenical Patriarch. In a statement, he notes that the death of the pope "constitutes a loss not only for his Church, but for the whole of Christianity and the international community searching for peace and justice."

    "The Church of Greece expresses its deep condolences to the Holy See and to Catholics all over the world," stated Archbishop Christodoulos, adding "a great Pope, a great personality of Catholicism, who was justly described as the flagbearer of freedom and human rights, has passed away."

    "He was an enlightened leader and a true fighter for the rights of the weak, the abolition of distinctions, the modernization of the Catholic Church and its approach to Orthodoxy," stressed the President of PASOK, George Papandreou in his statement, expressing his condolences to the faithful in Greece and around the world.

    "A tireless advocate of peace," was the description from the Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan, while the President of the US, George Bush, stated "the world has lost a defender of peace," stressing that John Paul II was a source of inspiration for millions of Americans.

    "With the death of John Paul II, the Catholic Church, and the whole world, lose a spiritual leader of historic dimensions," wrote the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Durao Baroso in his message of condolences, hailing the "historic" role of Pope John Paul II in the "reunification" of Europe, "to the point where he deserves the title of the founding father of a united Europe." Mr Baroso also expressed his solidarity to Poland, which lost "in the person of Karol Wojtila, one of its most prominent children."

    On television, Italian president Carlo Ciampi stated: "Italy mourns Pope John Paul II," and declared a three-day period of mourning in the country. The President of France, Jacques Chirac underlined that the Pope moved people with his greatness of spirit and his determination.

    Deep sorrow at the death of the Pope was also expressed by Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain, while the countrys Prime Minister Tony Blair stated that with the death of the leader of the Catholic Church, the world has lost a religious leader, regardless of whether or not they have religious convictions.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke of "an extraordinary person of our times, who was connected to an entire era."

    "The Catholic world loses a unique leader who marked the world in a very personal way," stressed the prime minister of the Netherlands, Jan Peter Balkenende. Sorrow was expressed at the death of John Paul II by the President of Croatia, Stipe Mesic, who described him as "a great friend of Croatia."

    The Prime Minister of Belgium, Guy Verhofstat, stated that the Pope "made his mark" on the second half of the 20th century, while the Portuguese football federation announced that a minutes silence would be observed in all matches on Sunday in memory of the Pontiff.

    In the popes birthplace, Poland, Walesa stated that "without him, there would not have been an end to communism or at least it would have happened much later and been much bloodier."

    The government of Cuba expressed "condolences, respect and solidarity" towards the Catholic community and called the departed leader a "friend" of the island.

    Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom described the death of the pope as "a great loss for all mankind," and praised his historic contribution to improving relations between the Catholic Church and the Jews. His Palestinian counterpart, Naser al-Kidua, recalled the "extremely important visit of the Pope to the Holy Land, which contributed to the creation of a different atmosphere, increasing the hope for our people." The Minister of Religious Affairs for Egypt, Mahmoud Hamdi Zakzouk stressed that the Pontiff "contributed to peace," and expressed the hope that his successor would "continue the work begun by John Paul II."

    In the Philippines, millions of Catholics gathered in churches, while President Gloria Arroyo described Pope John Paul II as a "hero" for the oppressed and "a defender of the families of the Philippines." In a Manila park, priests planted 84 trees, one for each of the years of the popes life, creating the forest of John Paul II.

    The Next Day

    In 1996, John Paul II set detailed rules of conduct on how to proceed to fill the Holy See. Immediately after the death, the Cardinal Chamberlain or camerlengo, must seal the private apartments and office of the Pontiff, while high-ranking cardinals, including the secretary of the Holy See and the bishops of the assemblies, resign from the Curia.

    According to the dictates of the apostolic Constitution, the mourning period and funeral for a Pope last nine days. After being exposed for the veneration of the faithful, he will be buried from four to six days after death. The final place of rest for previous Pontiffs was in the Basilica of St. Peter, although this is not necessarily according to the rules.

    The death of the Pope leaves the Catholic Church without a leader for many weeks, until the College of Cardinals elects the next Pontiff. The College also takes on the daily running of the Church, but does not have the right to make important decisions, as it cannot change papal decrees or the electoral rules to choose his successor.

    The dean of the College convenes the conclave, which consists of the highest ranking members of the Catholic Church after the Pope. One main function of the College is to choose "the day, the hour and the way in which the popes body will be taken to the Basilica in the Vatican to be exposed for the veneration of the faithful.

    Italian state television RAI reported that German Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, had already called the 117 Cardinals of the Catholic Church for the Conclave, which will elect the successor to John Paul II.

    According to tradition, the conclave will be held in a time not greater than 20 days from the death of the Pope, in the Sistine Chapel. In the meantime, as announced by Vatican spokesman Joachin Navarro Valls, the first convocation of the Cardinals of the Catholic Church, which will decide on the day of the funeral for Pope John Paul II, will be held on Monday, while citing Vatican sources, Italian news agency ANSA reported that the Pontiffs funeral would be held before next Thursday.

    Succession Scenarios

    After the funerary celebrations, attention turns to the College of Cardinals, who are called upon to elect the new Pontiff.

    Estimates concur that the successor to John Paul II will probably be European, aged between 62 and 72.

    The strongest candidate among the Italians appears to be the Archbishop of Milan, Dionigi Tettamanzi, aged 70, while another strongly heard name is that of Cardinal Angelo Scola from Venice.

    Also in a good position is the Archbishop of Vienna, Christof Senborn, who is, however, considered young, as he is 59 years old.

    On the other hand, there are those at a disadvantage because they are considered too old: German Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, highest ranking adviser to the Pontiff on theological matters and Cardinal Francis Arinze from Nigeria.

    Furthermore, there are two possible candidates from Latin America: the Archbishop of Teguzigalpa, Honduras, Oscar Maradiaga, and the Archbishop of Sao Paolo in Brazil, Claudio Hummes.

    One thing for sure is that the successor to John Paul II should continue to deal with issues of concern to the faithful in the western world, as well as the problems faced by developing countries.

    Translated by Millie Williams

    Related News:

    A Few Words about the Pope

    Worldwide Emotion for the Pope

    [02] Twenty-Seven Years of Service A Few Words about the Pope

    02 Apr 2005 19:48:00

    By Vagelis Theodorou

    Pope John Paul II was born on 18 May 1920 in Wadowice, Poland. He studied at the Universities of Krak&#243;w and Rome, while he entered the Church in 1946, when he was ordained priest. In 1948 he became a professor of Theology, while from 1953 until 1958, he taught ethics at the Jagiellonian University in Krak&#243;w. From 1963 until 1978, he was Archbishop of Krak&#243;w, while in 1967 Pope Paul VI elevated him to Cardinal. On 16 October 1978, at the age of 58, he was elected as the head of the Catholic Church, becoming the youngest leader of the Holy See in the 20th century, as well as the first pope of Slavic origin. He was a competent leader and a prominent figure in the international political scene, contributing to the fall of Communism in Europe. Furthermore, he supported the unification of the Old Continent more than any other Pontiff. He embarked on long trips, his "missionary pilgrimages" as he used to call them, from his very first year as Pope.

    Competent Leader, Controversial Figure

    His first years on the papal throne were marred by an assassination attempt against him. On 13 May 1981, Turkish citizen Mehmet Ali Agca shot him as he was entering St Peters Square. The Pontiff escaped with serious wounds, while the gunman was sentenced to 10 years. As per the Italian Media, Bulgaria submitted documents to Rome proving that the assassination attempt had been ordered by the KGB, while former East German State Police, Stasi, and Bulgarian operatives were also involved. Agca, however, kept claiming that he had been assisted by cardinals of the Vatican.

    John Paul II was highly criticized for his involvement in the international political scene, as well as for the controversial financial power of the Vatican. His constant visits all over the planet are equal to him having gone the round of the world thirty times.

    His first stops during these so-called "missionary pilgrimages" were Latin America, Ireland and Spain, while in 1979 he went back to his birthplace, Poland, where he visited the Auschwitz concentration camp.

    On 4 May 2001, he visited Greece and apologized to the Orthodox Church for the "painful wounds" inflicted by Catholics on Orthodox in the past. Two days later, he visited a Muslim mosque in Damascus, being the first ever visit in the 1400 years of Islam.

    As the religious leader of approximately one billion people, he had immense social influence. The amazing fact was that Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists responded to his call in 1986 and gathered in Assisi. Furthermore, in 2001 at the Vatican, thousands of faithful heard him talk about peace in the Middle East, the Balkans and Africa, while he also prayed for a better world.

    His words often made a difference. His ideas may not have moved the opponents of Catholicism, however, they left his seal in History, smashing age-old taboos. An example was his letter to Orthodox Churches on 2 May 1995, in which he mentioned that the schism was a mistake, as well as his testimony in 1998, that the Vatican had not made enough of an effort to stop the Holocaust.

    Furthermore, the time when he admitted that the Earth does move, as well as recognizing the errors of the Holy See with the unforgettable "Mea Culpa", were both considered smart political moves.

    However, the Pontiff was not completely subversive, as he stood firmly against abortion and defended the Churchs traditional approach to human sexuality.

    As an untiring defender of human rights, he proclaimed the human values at the UN headquarters. In 1982, he assumed the role of a diplomat, when he mediated for peace between the United Kingdom and Argentina, during the war in the Falklands.

    The Popes influence was surely strong. His popularity was mainly based on the ability to adjust to social values, a charisma for which he gained the title of the most popular Pontiff.

    However, his years on the papal throne were overshadowed by financial scandals involving the Vatican bank, as well as rumours regarding money laundering and ties with the Mafia.

    The Beginning of the End

    John Paul IIs health proved his Achilles heel. In 1992 he underwent a successful surgery to remove a tumour from his colon.

    Eight years later, the Cardinal of Paris announced that the Pontiff suffered from gradual paralysis, while he was later diagnosed with Parkinsons disease.

    The final countdown for the head of the Roman Catholic Church started on 1 February 2005, when he was taken to Gemelli Hospital in Rome suffering from acute inflammation of the larynx, brought on by a bout of influenza. Nine days later, his condition improved and he was released. However, for the first time in his papacy, he missed the Ash Wednesday ceremonies on 9 February.

    His fragile health was once again shaken on 24 February. The Pontiff began having trouble breathing and also had a fever, so he was rushed back to the Gemelli Hospital, where a tracheotomy was successfully performed.

    The Pope returned to the Holy See 18 days later. Having suffered from his continuous health problems, he was unable to speak, while the Vatican spokesperson announced that his Holiness was being fed through a tube.

    His health took a turn for the worse on 1 April. The Vatican announced that he had suffered a "cardiocirculatory collapse" and described the Popes condition as "very serious". It was also announced that the Pope had received the Last Rites, extreme unction.

    Thousands of faithful gathered in St Peters Square, awaiting news of his condition. Late on Saturday night, Pope John Paul II breathed his last, while Catholics all over the world were wrapped in mourning.

    Translated by Vicky Ghionis

    [03] Sailing as Normal

    03 Apr 2005 11:07:00

    By Despina Hristopoulou

    Since 06:00 this morning, ships are setting out as normal from the ports of Piraues and Rafina, to all destinations and on all routes, as sailing is now permitted. Despite this, as recommended by the Ministry of Mercantile Marine, it would be a good idea for all those planning to travel to contact shipping agencies or the Port Authorities.

    Translated by Millie Williams

    [04] High levels of carcinogenic substance Bitter Honey

    03 Apr 2005 10:34:00

    By Despina Hristopoulou

    Sources: NET 105.8

    An immediate intervention by the deputy Minister for Development Giannis Papathanasiou was triggered by the allegation by the former president of EFET Nikos Katsaros that there are unsuitable batches of honey on the market from a large private company, containing dangerous carcinogenic substances. The recently resigned president of EFET yesterday confirmed that both in Greece and other European countries, there is Greek honey in circulation that contains high levels of the carcinogenic substance paradichlorobenzolium. The substance comes from an ingredient, ceroscorene, which is used to clean the honeycomb. According to Mr Katsaros, EFET has known since 2003 that batches of honey are likely to contain increased levels of the dangerous substance, and advised beekeepers and honey producers to change methods of cleaning honeycombs, something which did not happen.

    Intense Checks

    In any case, as Mr Papathanasiou stressed, there is no cause for concern, as the relevant authorities are conducting intense checks. He noted that the EU recently adopted (on 16 March) a limit on the percentage of the particular substance in honey, and if percentages above the limit are discovered, they will immediately be withdrawn.

    Already in Cyprus, since February, batches of honey containing increased levels of the carcinogenic substance have been withdrawn.

    Translated by Millie Williams

    [05] Fatal Accident in the Philippines

    03 Apr 2005 12:36:00

    By Despina Hristopoulou

    Sixteen people were killed and a further 19 were injured in a frontal collision of a coach with a minibus in the northern Philippines. The accident occurred on Saturday night in the town of San Fabian in the province of Pangashinan, 180 km north of the capital, Manila. According to a high-ranking police official, there are four people seriously injured. As the police announced, all the dead were traveling on the minibus. The police are continuing to investigate the causes of the accident. According to initial indications, the coach attempted to overtake another vehicle when it collided head-on with the smaller bus.

    Translated by Millie Williams

    [06] Three Dead in Ship Collision

    03 Apr 2005 12:11:00

    By Despina Hristopoulou

    Sources: NET 105.8

    Motor-ship Roberta, flying the flag of Panama, collided with the Aegean Wind, which flies a Greek flag, and which carried a dry cargo, at the entrance to the Straits of Gallipolis in Propontis. In the collision, three members of the crew of the Roberta were killed.

    Translated by Millie Williams


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