Pope's calendar full for 2010

By  John Thavis, Catholic News Service
  • January 7, 2010
{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI has said goodbye to 2009, but his 2010 calendar is already being filled.

On the horizon for the next 12 months are four papal trips; a Middle East Synod of Bishops; the expected publication of a document on the Bible and the second volume of Jesus of Nazareth; a major gathering of the world’s priests; a pilgrimage to the Shroud of Turin; a probable consistory and several likely canonizations and beatifications — including that of Pope John Paul II.

In April Pope Benedict marks five years in office, and the event will no doubt be marked by modest festivities and lots of analysis on the accomplishments and priorities of the German pontiff, who turns 83 the same month.

Several of his endeavours are works in progress, like the ongoing negotiations with the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X and the effort to bring its leaders back into full communion. No breakthrough is guaranteed in 2010, but Vatican officials say that, at the very least, the picture should be much clearer as twice-a-month meetings proceed.

January brings traditional papal liturgies and meetings, including an encounter Jan. 11 with the diplomatic corps accredited to the Vatican. Six days later, Pope Benedict will visit Rome’s synagogue for the first time, an event that has added drama since the Pope’s recent decision to advance Pope Pius XII’s sainthood cause.

The new year also means a new slate of “ad limina” visits by groups of bishops around the world. Although the visits traditionally are made every five years, the interval has grown longer recently.

The Pope’s second volume on the life of Jesus is expected to be released in the spring, although translations may take a little longer. It’s expected to cover Christ’s childhood, passion, death and resurrection.

Pope Benedict will make at least four foreign trips in 2010: to Malta in April, to the Marian shrine at Fatima in Portugal in May, to Cyprus in early June and to England in mid-September. The fact that all four will take place in Europe or the Mediterranean gave rise to a rumour that the Pope has decided not to make any more long-distance trips — a rumour that informed Vatican sources said was completely untrue.

During his visit to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, the Pope will present the working document for the Synod of Bishops on the Middle East, which will take place Oct. 10-24 at the Vatican. Joining him on Cyprus will be church leaders from places like northern Africa, the Holy Land and Iraq.

The Pope is still putting the finishing touches on a document from a previous synod, the 2008 assembly on the Bible. That text is expected in the first half of the year.

Pope Benedict is scheduled to make four trips in Italy in 2010, including a visit in early May to see the Shroud of Turin, which many believe is the burial cloth of Christ. In early October, he makes a one-day visit to Palermo, Sicily, to address a meeting of families and youths.

Beatifications and canonizations will loom large on the papal calendar in 2010. Romans are already planning for the possible beatification of Pope John Paul II in October — presuming that a miracle will be attributed to his intercession some time during the next several months. On his September trip to England, the Pope is expected to preside over the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, the influential 19th-century theologian and former Anglican.

Pope Benedict will close the Year for Priests in June, presiding over a worldwide congress of priests in Rome June 9-11.

Consistories to create new cardinals are always tough to predict, but most insiders expect Pope Benedict to hand out red hats some time in 2010. Given the limit of 120 cardinals under age 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave, the Pope would have at least 12 vacancies to fill by the middle of the year, and 19 if he waits until mid-November.

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