VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 2, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI has a long agenda of proposals, and apostolic trips top the list.
The Pope has expressed his readiness to travel, though he has mentioned the need to pace his travels, given his age, 78, as well as the many issues he faces in the first months of his pontificate.
Benedict XVI has received an invitation to visit the Holy Land both from the Israeli government as well as the Palestinian National Authority.
On July 8, Israeli Communications Minister Dalia Itzik handed the Pope a written invitation from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to visit his country.
“I have a long list of commitments to visit foreign countries, but Israel has priority” was the Holy Father’s words, Minister Itzik later told an Israeli radio station.
Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian National Authority, has also invited Benedict XVI to visit Palestinian territories, reported 30 Giorni magazine.
Patriarch Bartholomew I invited the Pope to visit Istanbul on the occasion of the feast of St. Andrew, Nov. 30. The Vatican has yet to give its official response.
Every year, a Holy See delegation travels to the see of the ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to attend celebrations on the feast of its patron, St. Andrew, brother of the Apostle Peter.
In turn, the patriarchate sends a delegation to the Vatican on June 29, feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, patrons of the Church of Rome.
The Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches have been divided since the schism of 1054.
The rumor of a possible papal trip to Turkey was confirmed at a press conference July 7 by Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, after he was received by Benedict XVI.
In regard to other trips, the Holy Father engaged in “a period of reflection” during the summer, according to the Irish prime minister.
The World Meeting of the Family, convoked by Pope John Paul II and confirmed by Benedict XVI, is scheduled for Valencia, Spain, next July 2006. The Pope has expressed his intention to attend.
The Pontiff might travel to Latin America in 2007, for the general conference of the Latin American bishops’ council. The location of the meeting has not yet been announced.
Benedict XVI has been invited by Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller of Regensburg to visit his native Bavaria in 2006.
Benedict XVI is preparing the Synod of Bishops, which will close the Year of the Eucharist. Some 250 bishops are expected to attend the Oct. 2-23 event at the Vatican.
Benedict XVI has made some modifications to the synodal methodology to allow for greater participation.
The Pope has also convoked a second synod of African bishops.
Consistory and Curia reform
The College of Cardinals now has 112 electors; the norm has it can have 120. Thus, the Pope might convoke a consistory to elevate new cardinals.
In a press conference July 5, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, said that the Pope might carry out a reform of the Roman Curia.
In any case, Benedict XVI will have to replace some heads of Holy See dicasteries, as several have reached the normal retirement age of 75.
Vatican sources confirmed that during his summer break, the Holy Father worked on a book which he had already started while he was still a cardinal. The book’s topic has not been revealed.
The Holy See has not confirmed whether the Pope is working on his first encyclical, as rumored in the press.
Benedict XVI will preside over his first canonization, on Oct. 23, in St. Peter’s Square.
Those to be canonized include Chilean Jesuit Alberto Hurtado (1901-1952); two Ukrainians — Jozef Bilczewski (1860-1923), archbishop of Lviv, and Zygmunt Gorazdowski (1845-1920), diocesan priest — and two Italians — Gaetano Catanoso (1879-1963) and Felice Da Nicosia (1715-1787).
Outstanding among the papal activities planned for next year is the Pentecost meeting in Rome with members of the new ecclesial movements and communities.
It will be the second meeting of its kind, following that of Pentecost 1998, convoked by Pope John Paul II.