POPE PAUL returned to the Vatican at the weekend from his summer villa at Castelgandolfo, in the Alban Hills outside Rome. While he undoubtedly benefited from the change of air up there, there had been no summer vacation for him. "He worked as hard as ever", one of his aides said. "He has a great deal to preoccupy him these days."
He did get out a bit, though. There was his pilgrimage to the birthplace of Pope Leo XIII, the "Working Man's Pope", at Carpineto Romano, a hilltop town 50 miles south-east of Rome, where the author of the historic social encyclical Rerun: Novarum was born in 1810.
Carpineto Romano is heavily Communistic, but Pope Paul got a tremendous reception there. "The voice of Leo can still be heard". he told the people. "He defended the humble, the workers. He made you free."
Previously, he had gone to the castle of Fumone, high on a hill about 50 miles east of Rome, where Pope Celestine V died in 1296, after resigning within five months of his election. He was more than 80 when he became Pope and said he was unable to cope with the duties—a reaction which gives some point, today, to Pope Paul's suggestion that bishops might consider retiring at 75.
Before Pope Paul left for Castelgandolfo, the big guess in sonic quarters was that the long-awaited Papal pronouncement on hirth control might issue from there. It didn't,
President lets fly
PRESIDENT SARAGAT, normally a pretty mild man, let fly the other day with what is generally conceded to he the most forceful statement he has ever made. Condemning the fanatical terrorism now engulfing Alto Adige (South Tyrol), the strategic zone near the Brenner Pass ceded to Italy from Austria after the First World War, he said :
"The reply to this insulting challenge of neo-Nazism to a democratic Italy is to fight without quarter against the criminals, their bosses, their accomplices, their financiers and their protectors.
"It is disgusting to find, more than 20 years after the fall of the filthy Nazi dictatorship, that the backwash of Nazism still finds acceptance and protection and that murderers can act with impunity."
The Italian President was speaking after the latest terrorist bombing outrage near the Brenner, which killed two young Italian customs guards, wounded five others and raised to five the number of Italian guards killed in the disputed region in less than four months.
For years. fanatical extremists have been demanding the return of Alto Adige, with its overwhelmingly Germanspeaking majority. to Austria. It is only in recent years, however, that successive outrages inflicted upon the local people irrespective of ethnic groups, have moved on to the plane of regular murderous acts.
The Italian Press has flatly blamed the Austrian Government for the reign of terror in Alto Adige and urged Premier Aldo Moro "to give free rein" to the Italian police and troops in the area to suppress terrorism as they see fit. The immediate closing of the Haifa-Austrian frontier was demanded and the stationing of Italian troops at the Brenner advocated as the only real way to deal with the terrorists who, apparently, come and go across the border at will.
Premier Moro has told Parliament that Alto Adige is "definitely and indisputably Italian territory." Interior Minister Paolo Taviani has declared that the terrorism "will be fought with no holds barred."
It is admitted all round, however. that solving the "nco Naai terrorism" will be a long and difficult job . especially if the terrorists continue to kill and plunder. The latest killings could not have been more wretchedly timed. They came when German-speaking politicians in Alto Adige appeared about to accept Italian offers for wider self-government.
Children's own train
ITALIAN CAPUCHIN FRIARS seeking new premises for 80 poor children in Osso Croveo, near Domodossola, on the Italo-French border, were presented with four outmoded sleeping cars and two old restaurant cars the Italian Railways Department had scrapped and intended to dismantle. The railways authorities built temporary tracks from the local railway station to take the carriages up into the little mountain town. There, under the direction of the Superior, Fr. Michelangelo—always resourceful fellows, these Michel angelos—the friars transformed the four sleeping cars into bunk-lined dormitories and the restaurant cars into a dining hall.
Not only are the youngsters, previously housed in a cramped hostel, delighted with their new quarters, they arc also pretty uppish about being the only children around the place who live in their own train!
IN MILAN, the Public Prosecutor has ordered publishers of four "comic" books pandering to viciousness, and the proposition that it pays to be on the side of evil rather than good these days, to stand trial on charges of disturbing public morality.
Known as the ."K" books, because their sadistic heroes all have the letter "k" in their names—"Demoniak", "Kriminal", "Sadik" and "Satanik"—the cheap publications have an enormous sale throughout Italy, where many young people prefer illustrated comic books to anything else in the reading line.
Public prosecutors in several centres have complained about the bad influence of these "the tough guys always win" books. They point out that apart from encouraging juvenile crime and immorality, they also influence illiterate adults who, while they cannot read, are avid followers of brutish pictorial junk.
German mission lead
BISHOP FULTON J. SHEEN, in an introduction to a new booklet on American Catholic missionary work overseas, provides some interesting comparisons on mission activities by various countries. For instance, while the United States has 9,303 priests serving in missions abroad, Germany has 17,000. The United Slates has 3,707 Sisters and 549 lay people serving as missionaries, while Germany has 11,600 Sisters and 1,400 lay mi!;sioners. United States priests in the missions number 3,946 out of a total Catholic population of about 40 million. Holland, with a Catholic population of only 4,800,000, has 6,000 priests in overseas missions.
However, Bishop Sheen, U.S. National Director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, points out that America is, in fact, becoming more mission-minded. It has 1,777 more missioners abroad today than it did two years ago.
HEAR THE STORY about the old lady who put down 5s. and asked for a lounge seat in a cinema screening "Dr. Zhivago"? The cashier told her lounge seats cost 15s. "Who is this Dr. Zhivago?" said the old lady angrily. "Some kind of specialist?"