The full text of Pope Paul's letter to Archbishop Hilarion Capucci, now released, shows the Pope did not associate himself with the acts for which the Archbishop was imprisoned in Israel.
The Greek Catholic Archbishop was sentenced after arms and explosives had been found in his car.
The Pope's reply to his letter, the full text of which was not at first made available, was interpreted by Arab and Jewish newspapers as supporting the Archbishop's actions.
This was also the interpretation made by an editorial criticising Pope Paul in The Times on November 4. , The Pope's letter, written in French, said: "We have greatly appreciated the assurance you gave us that you pray and offer all your troubles and sufferings to our purposes . . ."
The letter concluded: "Wishing to assure you of our will to remain close to you, of our solicitude and frequent prayers, we send you, with our fatherly good wishes, a special apostolic blessing."
The Melkite Rite Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem received a 12-year sentence for smuggling. weapons from Lebanon to Israel on behalf of Palestinian guerrillas.