Vatican City. Pope John Paul II wrote Catholic Church history when he held a reconciliation speech in March at St. Peter’s Church in Rome. Then he asked for forgiveness for the church’s persecution of various groups, e.g. Jews, women and minorities – however, he did not obey a plea from homosexuals to be mentioned as well. In a prayer specifically addressed to the Jews, John Paul II explained how deeply distressed he was over all the church’s misdeeds against Jews over the centuries. This caused the Israeli newspaper Maariv to erupt: “Salve Pontifex” (“Be well, Church leader”) prior to the Pope’s visit to Israel and Egypt and the holy places shortly afterwards.
Once in Israel, John Paul II once again asked the Jewish people for forgiveness. But when he was in Jerusalem facing the memorial of the Holocaust’s six million murdered Jews, he found that words were inadequate. Instead, he quoted the Psalter: “I hear the crowd whisper. Horror from all directions! ”. The Pope set a new record in May: during his nearly 22 years on the Holy See, he had managed to declare a blessing or sanctification of 1,300 people who had distinguished themselves within the Catholic Church during his life. But when John Paul II in September blamed the infamous anti-Semitic Pope Pius IX, it was met with criticism from many directions.
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The Pope’s traditional Christmas tree at St. Peter’s Square caused a great deal of rebellion and had to be protected by police when it was erected. There was nothing wrong with the Christmas tree, which was stately and 81 years old, just like John Paul II, but it came from the Austrian state of Carinthia, where xenophobic Jörg Haider is the head of government. This was not a political game from the Vatican, where one has long foresight. The pope receives a Christmas tree every year from some Catholic entity, and three years ago it was decided that the Christmas tree in 2000 would come from Carinthia, thus long before Jörg Haider became widely known. When Haider arrived in Rome with a delegation of 250 people, riotous protests erupted, which were fought back by police. Jörg Haider got his talk with the Pope, but afterwards saw John Paul IIthat both the right-wing populist and his delegation were given their own copy of the Pope’s writing against human rights violations, racism and xenophobia. Some time before the Pope showed this diplomatic dexterity, German Bishop Karl Lehmann suggested that John Paul II should consider resigning. This was addressed to the Pope by: “Who would I hand in my farewell application to?”
According to COUNTRYAAH, the population of Vatican City in 2000 was 674, ranking number 235 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.130% yearly, and the population density was 0.0000 people per km2.