VATICAN CITY, JAN. 5 -- Pope John Paul II will make a second visit to Austria in June and during it will meet Jews who protested his audience at the Vatican with President Kurt Waldheim last year.
Jews around the world protested strongly last June when the pope received Waldheim with full honors at the Vatican.
The visit broke the international diplomatic isolation of the Austrian president, whom Jewish groups have accused of involvement in Nazi war crimes when he was an officer in the German army during World War II. Waldheim has denied the allegations.
Vatican Radio said today the pope's trip to Austria will last from June 23 to 27 and include stops in Vienna, Salzburg, Eisenstadt, Lorch, Gurk and Innsbruck.
It said the pope, who first visited Austria as pontiff in 1983, would meet members of the Austrian Jewish community in the Vatican's Vienna nunciature, or embassy, June 24. The Pope meets Jewish groups on nearly all of his foreign trips.
The pope's audience with Waldheim at the Vatican was a major setback in Catholic-Jewish relations after more than 20 years of steady improvement capped by the Pope's historic visit to the Rome synagogue in 1986.
At the time of the audience, the Vatican said it was merely part of diplomatic protocol and implied no stand by the Holy See on the controversy over Waldheim's war record.
Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations said in Washington that he hoped the pope "would not repeat his overly lavish praise of Mr. Waldheim when they met last summer." He added that "the best suggestion of all" for the pope's trip "would be if President Waldheim had the good grace to resign before the pope arrives."