Aide: Pontiff Is Making Most of the Summer Months

Benedict XVI to Remain in Castel Gandolfo Through September

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 11, 2011 ( Benedict XVI began his vacation last Thursday, which he will spend for the second consecutive year in the pontifical summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

Shortly after his arrival, the Pope appeared on the balcony of the Apostolic Palace to greet the small crowd that gathered there to welcome him.

«I begin my vacation,» he said. «Here I have everything: mountains, lake, sea, a beautiful church with a renovated facade and good people.

«I’m happy to be here. I hope the Lord will allow us to have a good vacation.»

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, told Vatican Radio that the Holy Father chose to remain in Castel Gandolfo because it was, among other reasons, the «simplest» option.

Instead of accepting one of several invitations to vacation in the Italian Alps, as he had done several years in a row at the beginning of his pontificate, the spokesman said Benedict XVI chose to remain in «a known place» that is «accustomed to the normal presence of the Holy Father.»

«I think the Pope is also aware of the fact that from the point of view of organization, logistics and security,» the Vatican spokesman said. «His stay in Castel Gandolfo is the simplest solution also for many other people.»

Father Lombardi said that other advantages of Castel Gandolfo is that it is «tranquil,» «cooler than Rome,» with gardens where the Pope can walk, and it has places adapted to «intellectual work,» as well as to prayer.

The Jesuit priest noted as well that the choice to remain in Castel Gandolfo was also motivated, undoubtedly, because of the trips planned for this summer: to Madrid for World Youth Day in August, to Ancona, Italy, in September for the closing Mass of the Italian Eucharistic Congress, and to Germany at the end of September.


Father Lombardi also mentioned that the Pontiff must finish «his great work on Jesus of Nazareth.»

«He has told us that he wants to complete it with a third volume, of course shorter, on the childhood of Christ, on the Gospels of the childhood,» the Vatican spokesman explained. «He has already started to work these last months in his free time, but it will probably be the moment to complete this work or at least to advance it decisively.»

«We know very well that the Pope is not at all a person who wastes his time,» Father Lombardi said. «He is a person who makes intense use of his time, even when he rests.»

Father Lombardi explained that one day he was amazed by the words of the Benedict XVI’s secretary, Msgr. Georg Gänswein, who said very spontaneously: «It is by studying and writing on theology and sacred Scripture that the Pope rests better, because they are the subjects that stir him most deeply.»

Finally, Father Lombardi added that the weekly recitation of the Angelus prayer at midday on Sunday will continue from Castel Gandolfo «in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, a different framework from the great square, more recollected, where people also feel closer to the Holy Father, who is just a few tens of meters from them,» which gives a «family» atmosphere to this meeting.

During the summer period, private and special audiences are suspended. In the month of July, no general audiences will be held on Wednesdays. The weekly catecheses will begin again Aug. 3 in Castel Gandolfo, unless the crowds are too large, in which case they will be held in the Vatican.

Only one official visit is planned, that of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Monday, in view of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Southeastern Asian country.

The prime minister will be accompanied by the Foreign Affairs Minister and Archbishop Murphy Pakiam of Kuala Lumpur, reported The Malaysian Insider.

Benedict XVI will resume his normal schedule of activities in September, although he will not return to the Vatican until the end of that month.


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