Pope receives mixed reception in Switzerland
The Pope's brief visit to Switzerland on the weekend generated an enthusiastic reception from thousands of young people some of the international media is reporting while others are more sombre. The Catholic media has underlined the importance of the trip in restoring diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Bern.
The Pope's 32-hour visit to Switzerland, was his first foreign trip in nine months, and the 103rd pilgrimage of his 25-year papacy.
Voice of America in a generally up-beat account said: "Thousands of Roman Catholic youngsters from all over Switzerland gathered in the country's capital, Bern, to welcome Pope John Paul II, who accepted their invitation to meet with them. The pope attended a large and enthusiastic rally at a Bern stadium where he received a rapturous welcome from thousands of young people as he was wheeled into the stadium, escorted by his Swiss Vatican guards".
On the other hand, AFP, was downplaying the enthusiasm with a report concentrating more on the infirmities of the Pope and reporting "there is considerable scepticism in Switzerland about John Paul's ability to continue as head of the Roman Catholic Church due to his condition and to religious issues."
"Three-quarters of Swiss questioned in a recent opinion poll felt he should retire, a feeling shared by a group of Swiss Roman Catholic theologians, priests and community leaders in a public letter to the Pope."
In reports earlier last week, Catholic news agencies such as Zenit and Catholic World News were drawing attention to the importance of the visit in restoring diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Switzerland.
SOURCES FULL STORIES:
VoA Thousands of Catholic Youth Welcome Pope in Switzerland
AFP/Yahoo Pope John Paul II tests his endurance at open-air mass in Switzerland
Zenit Switzerland hopes to have Ambassador in Vatican
CWN Swiss to renew diplomatic ties with Vatican
7 Jun 2004