MONDAY
March 20, 2000
volume 11, no. 56
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

ISRAEL PREPARES FESTIVE WELCOME FOR POPE
Number of Reporters Breaks Record in Country's History

    JERUSALEM, MAR 17 (ZENIT.org).- All Jerusalem is abuzz with the last minute preparations for the Pope's arrival. Many streets of the capital are decorated with Israeli and Papal flags, creating a festive atmosphere.

    John Paul II will arrive on March 21. Virtually all preparations are completed. Heliports have emerged from nowhere for the Holy Father's convenience. Streets have been re-paved. In Jerusalem, improvements are especially evident in the bypasses and ring roads flanking the walls, from Gethsemani to the Jaffa door.

    Special rooms have been prepared in the Press Office in the Palace of Congresses to accommodate the record number of reporters who will cover the event. Moshe Foguel, the director, has stated that more than 1,500 special reporters will follow the Pontiff during his pastoral visit. To these should be added the number of local reporters. The last time there was such a notable influx of correspondents was in 1995, when Yitzak Rabin was assassinated. On that occasion, between 1,000-1,200 foreign journalists traveled to Israel.

    The event that will draw the greatest number of people will the Mass the Pope will celebrate in the Mount of the Beatitudes. It is estimated that some 100,000 people will attend, the majority youths. The parking lot for buses have been completed, and the papal balcony has been restored, as it was destroyed by the wind last Saturday.

    A 14-day strike in Nazareth has also ended. It was called by the 700 city employees, due to a delay in salary payments for January and February caused by a financial crisis. The problem was resolved at the last minute, as the Israeli government dipped into funds of the Ministries of the Interior and Economy.

    Despite continued tension over the mosque to be built next to the Basilica of the Annunciation, in in Nazareth, a week ago, the leader of the fundamentalists requested a warm welcome for the Pope.

    Rabbi Abraham Ravitz, a parliamentary deputy and religious leader, made an appeal for a "worthy" welcome for the Holy Father. He said any protest behavior would be a grave error for three reasons: first, Jews must behave responsibly to reflect this to Jews living abroad among Christians; second, Israel is a democratic country that gives everyone freedom of worship; and, finally, the Jewish people have always been tolerant of other religions.

    Ravitz is worried about the statements of some Jewish extremists who are opposed to the Holy Father's visit and have expressed this at the Rabbinical headquarters. In fact, the leader of the racist movement has threatened to "do everything possible to sabotage the Pope's visit." ZE00031707

          

March 20, 2000
volume 11, no. 56
NEWS & VIEWS

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