VATICAN NOTEBOOK Edward Pentin
he Holy Father began his annual holiday on Wednesday where, for the rest of this month, he will be staying at the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, 18 miles from Rome.
The Pope’s choice of the Albano hills means that, for the second year running, he has declined invitations to holiday in the Italian Alps.
In previous years he travelled to Les Combes (where in 2009 he suffered a fall during the night and fractured his right wrist, slowing down progress on completing his book, Jesus of Nazareth), Bressanone in 2008, and Lorenzago di Cadore in 2007.
But Benedict XVI is particularly fond of Castel Gandolfo where he finds the fresh air of the hills, and the tranquillity of the gardens overlooking Lake Albano, more congenial and suitable for study.
In common with previous years, he will not be holding his usual Wednesday general audience, but will be reciting the Angelus prayer on Sundays. And he plans to use his time, as in past summers, not so much resting as studying. This year he hopes to finish the third and final volume of Jesus of Nazareth which will be dedicated to Jesus’s childhood and the years leading up to the beginning of Christ’s preaching – a period about which the gospels only offer a few hints.
Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said that as well as working on the book he will also be composing his discourses for his forthcoming trips to Spain and Germany. The Holy Father is to travel to Madrid for World Youth Day on August 18-21, and then to Berlin, Erfurt and Freiburg on September 22-25.
On his return from Spain, he is to hold his annual Schülerkreis, or seminar, largely made up ofhis former students whom he taught at the University of Regensburg.
The meeting, to take place on August 26-28, will be dedicated this year to the theme of the New Evangelisation.
As in previous years, some exceptional academics have been invited. These include the theologian Hanna-Barbara GerlFalkovitz, a long-time friend of the Pope, and Otto Neubauer, an Austrian member of the Emmanuel Community. On the second day of the meeting the Pope will meet his former students exclusively, perhaps one of the best-known being Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna.
One important aspect of the New Evangelisation is, of course, the Eucharist, the significance of which was under lined in a recent homily in Rome by Cardinal Mauro Piacenza.
The prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy stressed that “Adoration evangelisation” is “the only real way to be an authentic witness”.
The Italian cardinal explained that “not only strength and courage, but also the right creativity of evangelisation are derived by Eucharistic Adoration” and that “any time spent with the Lord is, in fact, given to brothers and is itself evangelisation”.
Cardinal Piacenza, who was appointed to the Congregation just last October, is a rising star in the Curia and, according to pundits, someone to look out for as a possible future Roman pontiff.