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Vatican admits 1995 Pope assassination fears

Vatican officials have indicated there were credible threats of an assassination plot against the Holy Father in 1995 when he visited the Philippines for World Youth Day, but denied there was any such threat in 1999.

London's Sunday Times reported that the Al Qaida masterminds behind the September 11 terror attack had also planned to kill the Pope when he visited Manila in 1999. It said the plan was thwarted when the papal trip to the Philippines was canceled "at the last minute".

According to Catholic World News, an official Vatican statement pointed out: "No trip to the Philippine was ever planned for 1999." But it says the officials acknowledge that US intelligence agents warned of an al Qaida plan directed by Osama bin Laden, prompting tight security precautions.

Earlier this year, rumors circulated in Rome about the possibility that Pope John Paul might travel to Manila in January 2003, for an international meeting of families. Although there has been no definitive statement from the Vatican, such as trip is now seen as highly unlikely because of the Pope's uncertain health and the physical demands of such a lengthy trip.

Catholic World News

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12 Nov 2002