Vatican     POPE'S SYMPATHY OVER DEATH OF GORBACHEV'S WIFE
John Paul II has sent a personal telegram of sympathy to Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union, who is in Germany mourning the death of his wife, Raisa.
    Profoundly saddened, the Holy Father wrote that he hoped Gorbachev "will find the serenity to cope with this loss in the affection of family and friends."
    Raisa died in a hospital in Munster, Germany, at 5:00 am yesterday, a spokesman of the Gorbachev Foundation in Moscow said. She had been hospitalized in the University Clinic of this city for nearly two months.
    A former professor of Marxist-Leninist philosophy, she knew how to captivate the West with her intelligence and elegance, breaking the tradition of the wives of Russian Communist politicians, who never participated in political life.
    Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the Holy See's spokesman, said that four days earlier the Pope had already sent a message to Gorbachev. The Pontiff, who was kept informed of the situation following Gorbachev's move to Germany, was still hoping that Raisa's health would improve.
    Gorbachev maintained his friendship with John Paul II even after he left power. This past year his foundation organized a conference of past Nobel Peace Prize recipients in Rome and he arranged for them to be received by the Holy Father in the Vatican.
   
    Zenit (available soon) 11:46am 22/9/99

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