by Viviane Hewitt in Rome VATICAN observers predict that the controversial letter on homosexuality which the Congregation of the Faith sent to America's 300 bishops and which was leaked last week is the first of a series of "recommendations" to other Episcopal Conferences on the subject.
The letter, which has already stirred numerous protests from gay rights'groups, said it was "not unjust" to discriminate against homosexuals who seek to be teachers or soldiers, or who want to 'adopt. The letter calls homosexuality a "disorder".
US Archbishop Rembert Weekland of Milwaukee told an Italian weekly that he doubted whether John Paul II had seen the Congregation's latest letter, which was distributed as a matter of reserve but leaked to the US gay activist group, "New Ways Ministry". Archbishop Weakland revealed that the letter was not signed and that therefore "it cannot be taken for granted that the Pope has even seen the letter." The Archbishop went on to say: "Now sexuality is the battle ground for the Church. Sexuality is its new Galileo."
A reply from Archbishop Weakland and other progressives in the American Church is expected soon, although when the Catholic Herald contacted the
Archbishop's offices a spokeswoman said that Archbishop Weakland had decided not to make any comment because of the "high number" of telephone calls he had received regarding the communication from Rome. Rumours abound among Church watchers here about a similiar letter for Italian bishops being prepared by the Congregation.
The bishops issued a recommendation that there be no "further alienation" of homosexuals in the ecclesiastical community at a special conference at the sanctuary of Loreto in 1985.
A document from the Congregation last year which aimed to "clarify" the Church's view on gays brought no modification of the Italian opinion.
The Vatican is concerned at Italian trends following the decision by two city government administrations, Milan and Bologna, to make concessions to gay couples.
LOOKING gaunt after his operation to remove a benign intestinal tumour, Pope John Paul-II appeared at the 10th floor window of the Gemelli Clinic in Rome this week to acknowledge crowds of wellwishers.
In a taped Angelus talk, broadcast by Vatican Radio, the 72-year-old pontiff thanked people worldwide for their prayers and support.
Doctors said the Pope was expected to convalesce for a month in his summer residence, Castel Gandolfo, before resuming his normal schedule in the Vatican.
He had lost weight after the operation on July 15 but was back on a solid food diet and regaining his strength fast, said Dr Corrado Manni, a member of Pope's surgical team.
In a prayer printed on the front page of the Vatican daily newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Mother Teresa prayed for the Pope's speedy recovery for the sake of "the children, the orphans, the widows and the poorest of the world".