Eternal flame to honour John Paul II at Vatican grottos

An eternal flame in honour of John Paul II will be lit tomorrow at the Vatican grottos, in a ceremony to be led by the Vicar General of Vatican City, Archbishop Angelo Comastri, and attended by famous athletes.

Catholic News Agency reports that the event will be attended by several athletes, including Olympic champion Manuela Di Centa, who will carry a lighted torch from the Monastery of St Vincent in Bassano Romano to the Vatican to light the flame.

Athletes will carry the torch throughout Italy on its way to the Monastery. The John Paul II International Foundation has organised the ceremony as one part of series of social and religious events.

Meanwhile, the Polish media have reported on the unprecedented security measures taken during Benedict XVI's four-day visit to Pope John Paul's homeland, Poland.

More than 15,000 Polish police representing half the national force were mobilised for the visit, and 102 soldiers completing national service with the Polish Army asked to have their demobilisation postponed in order to guard the German pontiff.

The Warsaw-based Zycie Warzawy daily reported on 27 May two armour-plated Interior Ministry limousines in Pope Benedict's cavalcade contained rooftop equipment for blocking radio signals and mobile phones, which could be used with remote-control detonators.

The paper added that similar blocking equipment, effective over several hundred yards, was used for protecting heads of state and senior business leaders as well as for defending troop columns against roadside bombs in Iraq.

"The limousines also contain armed agents with a selection of automatic weapons," an anti-terrorism expert, Marcin Kossek, told the newspaper. "The task of this strike team is to react immediately against a possible terrorist attack."

Polish airspace was patrolled throughout the visit by a NATO early-warning reconnaissance plane, which reported all flights by helicopters and light aircraft to an operational centre in Warsaw.

Other advanced security measures include an unpiloted security balloon with cameras was positioned above the Pope's open-air Mass.

Police said 248 vehicles were towed during Pope Benedict's stay in Warsaw, where city-centre streets were cleared of traffic, and buses and trams offered free rides.

They added that 119 worshippers had needed medical treatment during the Mass on 26 May, which was marred by heavy rain, while 230 unemployed people and prison inmates had been put to work cleaning up after the event.

Eternal flame honoring John Paul II to be lit at Vatican grottos (Catholic News Agency 30/5/06)
Polish media report unprecedented security measures during papal trip (Catholic News Service 30/5/06)

Pope: 300,000 expected for Saturday's meeting with movements (AsiaNews.it 30/5/06)
In Poland, Pope Benedict calls for solid faith, reconciliation, peace (Catholic News Service 29/5/06)
Blair to meet Pope and invite him to UK (Catholic News Agency 30/5/06)
Dialogue between Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches set to resume (catholicireland.net 30/5/06)
Pope tells Poles he backs stronger inter-church relations (Ekklesia 30/5/06)
Pope slated for gaps in his Auschwitz speech (The Star/iol 30/5/06)
Pope Benedict's Auschwitz Prayer (Timie 30/5/06)
Jewish Leaders Reflect on Pope's Auschwitz Visit (Zenit 29/5/06)
Verbum Dei Founder Gets Papal Greeting (Zenit 29/5/06)

31 May 2006