Vatican View No Post-Synod Let-Up for Benedict

Though the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist has concluded, a look at Pope Benedict's calendar for November shows no signs of diminishing activity in the Apostolic Palace.

In addition to the weekly general audiences and praying the Sunday Angelus with the faithful in St. Peter's Square (both of which have been attended by record crowds during the first six months of this papacy), November includes a number of special audiences with heads of state or government, ad limina visits by the bishops of four countries, and a movie premiere.

On Thursday, Nov. 3, the bishops of Austria will begin their ad limina Apostolorum (to the threshold of the Apostles) visits to the Vatican. During these once-every-five-year visits, planned well in advance of their actual trip to Rome, the world's bishops call on various departments of the Roman Curia, are received individually by the Pope, and then are received as a group, at which time he addresses them concerning the specific situation of the Church in their country.

Bishops from Bulgaria are also scheduled to come to Rome (Nov. 9-12), as are the bishops of the Czech Republic (Nov. 14-19) and Poland (Nov. 21-26 and Nov. 28- Dec. 3).

Three beatification ceremonies, approved by Pope Benedict though not presided over by him, are scheduled for this month: Nov. 6 in Vicenza, Italy, and Nov. 13 and 20 in St. Peter's Basilica. The latter two will be celebrated by Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Private audiences on the Holy Father's agenda include bishop Mark Hanson, president of the Lutheran World Federation, on Nov. 7, Prime Minister Sali Berisha of Albania on Nov. 10 and Samoa's prime minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, on Nov. 28.

Israeli President

Since the start of his pontificate April 19, Benedict XVI has shown great openness to dialogue with non-Catholic Christians, Jews and Muslims. In a historic first for both the Vatican and Israel, the Pope will welcome Israeli President Moshe Katsav on Thursday, Nov. 17.

Later that day, in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father is scheduled to attend the premiere of John Paul II. Directed by Canadian John Kent Harrison and starring Jon Voight in the role of John Paul and Cary Elwes as Karol Wojtyla before his 1978 election as Pope, the miniseries was filmed in Krakow, Poland, and in and near Rome.

Nov. 11 in St. Peter's Basilica, in a traditional papal appointment, Benedict will preside at a Mass for the repose of the souls of the cardinals and bishops who died over the past year. Two weeks later, on Friday, Nov. 25 at 11 a.m., he is scheduled to inaugurate the academic year at Rome's Sacred Heart Catholic University. The following day he will celebrate First Vespers of the First Sunday of Advent at 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica.

Though not yet confirmed, it is expected that the Pope will grant an audience to members of the synod of the Chaldean Church, including 18 bishops from the Church in Iraq and the Chaldean diaspora, who are meeting in Rome from Nov. 7-14. The synod will focus on both the current situation in Iraq and the liturgical aggiornamento of the Chaldean Church, a community of approximately 700,000 faithful in the world, of whom 550,000 are in Iraq and 150,000 scattered throughout the world.

It is also likely that Benedict will grant audiences to participants in a three-day seminar promoted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the theme “Water and the Environment,” to the members of the Joint Working Group of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and of Social Sciences meeting Nov. 16-17 on “Globalization and Education,” and to participants in the 11th plenary session of the Academy of Social Sciences, headed by Harvard law professor Mary Ann Glendon. The academy meets Nov. 18-22 on the theme, “The Conceptualization of the Human Person in Social Sciences.”

The ‘Little House’

The academies’ meetings will take place in a building that is not only home to all three pontifical academies but one of the most thoroughly enjoyable sites to visit in Vatican City — the Casina Pio IV (Little House of Pius IV), a remarkable and well-preserved architectural complex dating from 1562 that consists of two buildings facing each other across an elliptical courtyard.

At month's end, Benedict XVI is expected to continue the tradition of sending a message — via a Holy See delegation — to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople for the Nov. 30 feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, patron of the Church of Constantinople. The Orthodox Church sends a similar delegation to Rome for the June 29 feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Joan Lewis writes from Rome.