Vatican paper surveys 40 years of papal travel
In its January 4 edition, the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano reflected on the trip by Pope Paul VI, which took place exactly 40 years earlier. The front-page story noted that although the trip was a short one -- lasting just 3 days -- it carried "great historic importance."
Vatican, Jan. 05 (CWNews.com)
Pope Paul VI began a new era of papal travel 40 years ago, when he became the first modern Pontiff to visit the Holy Land.
In its January 4 edition, the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano reflected on the trip by Pope Paul VI, which took place exactly 40 years earlier. The front-page story noted that although the trip was a short one-- lasting just 3 days-- it carried "great historic importance."
The trip by Paul VI, L'Osservatore noted, was "the first time that a Pope used an airplane, and made a trip to the land of Peter and the apostles."
The Vatican newspaper also pointed out two extraordinarily significant gestures made by Pope Paul VI during his trip: his embrace with the Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras-- "the first meeting since 1439 for the religious leaders of the Western and Eastern churches"-- and the Pope's homage to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
The trip also launched a new era of papal travel. Between 1964 and 1970, Pope Paul VI went to Lebanon, India, the United States, Portugal, Turkey, Colombia, Switzerland, and Uganda; a final trip in 1970 took him to Iran, Pakistan, the Philippines, Samoa, Australia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Sri Lanka.
Although Pope John Paul I never left Italy during his brief pontificate, John Paul II has shattered all records for papal travel. During his 25 years as Pontiff, he has made 102 trips outside Italy, reaching 129 different countries, and rolling up enough travel miles to have made three round-trip journeys to the moon.
In all his travel, however, Pope John Paul II was not able to schedule a visit to the Holy Land until March 2000-- although he had mentioned a desire to go there during the first Christmas of his pontificate, in 1978. The Pope's travel record still does not include two trips that he has expressed an ardent desire to make: to China and to Russia.
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Catholic World News
6 Jan 2004