Civil rights spokesman Jesse Jackson has been granted an audience with Pope John Paul II this week to talk about worldwide human rights issues affecting blacks.
His party, which includes Del. Walter Fauntroy (D-D.C.), plans to leave from New York tonight for Rome. They expect to meet with the pope sometime this week although the date and time have not yet been set.
Although reluctant to talk in detail about what he wants to discuss with the pope, Jackson said, "Obviously I'm concerned about the plight of southern Africa and Haiti and the diminishing of human rights of blacks in this country.
"And I think that as the tension builds toward military conflicts, the moral forces of the world must make themselves available and visible to mitigate the misery," he said.
Jackson has been a sharp critic of President Reagan's economic and civil rights policies, reflecting the views of the overwhelming majority of blacks in this country as indicated by public opinion polls.
He has visited South Africa, championing the cause of blacks there. Among other issues on which he has spoken out in recent months is the plight of Haitian refugees detained in camps in Florida while the Reagan administration seeks to have them sent back.
He is hoping to involve John Paul II in these issues. Several times in an interview Jackson mentioned the pope's forceful interjection of his moral authority against the military crackdown in Poland.
"The arguments he used to support Solidarity in Poland are very convincing ones," Jackson said. "His call for human rights is a very appealing call and I think that religious forces of the world must rally to those calls because I think they are the right signals."
Jackson, 40, a lieutenant of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is co-pastor of the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church on Chicago's South Side and preaches frequently at churches around the country as he travels in behalf of civil rights causes.
In addition to Fauntroy, the party accompanying Jackson to Rome includes Mary F. Berry, the vice chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission; Dr. Norman Francis, the president of Xavier University in New Orleans, a predominantly black Catholic institution; Camille Cosby, the wife of actor Bill Cosby, and Rev. Jackson's wife, Jacqueline.