VATICAN CITY, MAY 31, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI issued new norms for the renewal of the practice of worship in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, a favorite destination of pilgrims to Rome.
The basilica is built on the site where, according to tradition, the Apostle to the Gentiles was martyred. In the same complex is a 300-year-old abbey of Benedictine monks, for whom the basilica serves as church.
The new norms appeared in the letter “The Ancient and Venerable Basilica,” written on the Pope’s own initiative and published today by the Holy See.
According to the document, the Holy Father has decided that this place of pilgrimage, like the other major basilicas of Rome, will have an archpriest.
He appointed Archbishop Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, 79, former apostolic nuncio in Italy, to this office.
The archpriest will have a vicar for pastoral care in the person of the abbot of the Benedictine abbey and a delegate for administrative tasks. The current abbot is Father Edmund Power, 52.
The basilica belongs to the Holy See in virtue of the Lateran Treaty of 1929, signed with the Italian state.
The new document was necessary as in the past the Holy See defined only some aspects of the competencies of the pontifical administration of the basilica and of the Benedictine abbey.
Henceforth, the abbot of the Monastery of St. Paul Outside the Walls, after being canonically elected, must be confirmed by the Pope. The text explains that the abbot enjoys rights and prerogatives as superior of the Benedictine community.
In order to enable the abbot to attend to his duties in the monastic community, Pope John Paul II established that the extraterritorial area around the abbey should be removed from the jurisdiction of the abbot of St. Paul’s. Still, the abbot will conserve his ordinary jurisdiction within the walls of the monastery and his liturgical function within the basilica.
Benedict XVI’s document, with explanations proper to juridical language, confirms that the administration of the sacrament of penance in that basilica will continue to be entrusted to the care of the penitentiaries, chosen from the Benedictine monks.
In recent times, the Holy See has shown particular interest in promoting special ecumenical events, either in the basilica or within the abbey.
Thus the papal letter states that it will “be the task of the monks, under the supervision of the archpriest, to organize, coordinate and develop such programs, also with the help of Benedictine confreres from other abbeys and in accordance with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.”