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Pope to give anniversary bonus to Vatican employees

For the 25th annivesary of his election to Pope, John Paul II has decided to give a 500 euro ($A851) bonus to all the employees of the Holy See.

This bonus will be paid the end of October. In the past, Vatican employees received a similar bonus at the death of a pope but when, in September 1978 Pope John Paul I died suddenly less than two months after his election, this custom was suspended.

Meanwhile Pope John Paul II appeared alert and relatively strong on Saturday at a meeting with Philippine President Gloria Arroyo. On Wednesday the Holy Father had been forced to call off his audience due to illness.

At the Arroyo meeting, Vatican officials helped the Pope to his feet. He shook her hand and returned to his seat for the rest of the meeting.

Also on Saturday, the Vatican said John Paul II had approved the election of a new Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Kirkuk, Iraq. Chaldean Catholics are the largest Christian community in Iraq, but its numbers have been steadily shrinking, mainly because of economic hardships.

Yesterday the Pope celebrated mass for his two predecessors, Popes John Paul I and Paul VI.

October promises to be a gruelling month for the Holy Father. On Wednesday 15th, he will give his regular weekly audience before moving off to meet the members of the current College of Cardinals gathered in Rome to begin a 3-day consistory at which they will reflect on this 25-year pontificate. The ceremonies will lead up to the beatification of Mother Teresa on Sunday, 19 October. The new consistory - which will includes Cardinal Pell and other other new cardinals - will begin two days later.


Pope Presides at Mass for Paul VI and John Paul I (Zenit)
Philippine President Gets an Audience (Zenit)
'Stronger' pope back in public (The Australian)
Pope cancels audience due to intestinal problem (25/9/03)
Chronology of the Pope's health (Reuters)

29 Sep 2003