ROME (Feb. 4)
The Vatican received a top official of the Palestine Liberation Organization on Thursday, explaining in a statement afterwards that it “cannot remain indifferent in face of the painful and worrisome events that the population of the occupied territories is living through.”
Farouk Kaddoumi, the PLO’s foreign policy spokesman, met with Archbishop Achille Silvestrini, the Vatican’s foreign minister. A Vatican spokesman said Kaddoumi “expressed the gratitude of the Palestinians for the moral support that the Holy See gives to the cause of the Palestinian people.”
Pope John Paul II received King Hussein of Jordan on Monday. Following that meeting, the Vatican issued a statement saying the Palestinian issue was a “question of international justice.” On Friday, the pope is scheduled to receive President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.
A statement issued by the World Jewish Congress here Thursday said that “in receiving the PLO, a terrorist organization, and Kurt Waldheim, an unrepentant Nazi, the Vatican of late demonstrates a shocking insensitivity to Jewish concerns.”
The pope granted Austrian President Waldheim an audience last June at which the pope praised him as a man of peace. Waldheim is accused of complicity in the deportation of Greek Jews and other atrocities when he served as a German Army officer in the Balkans during World War II.
His wartime activities, which he had concealed, have been under examination by an international panel of military historians in Vienna. It is scheduled to release the report of its findings Monday.