So Far in 2011: Two Papal Firsts

A Talk With the Space Station Crew and a Pontifical Tweet

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 29, 2011 (Zenit.org).- As more than half of 2011 has passed into history, the Vatican is offering a look at the highlights of the year so far. 

On Thursday, it noted some of the most important papal events for the first three months of the year. Today, a look at April through July was published.

These four months began with the coming into force April 1 of the Vatican’s new law to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

The commission on China that the Pope established in 2007 gathered for a meeting in mid-April.

And on April 13, the YouCat was presented — a catechism for young people that will be distributed in Madrid at World Youth Day in August.

May began with the beatification of Pope John Paul II. The following day, the president of Poland visited Benedict XVI. And on May 3, the mortal remains of Blessed John Paul II were laid in the Chapel of St. Sebastian in the Vatican Basilica.

On May 13, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei published an instruction on the application of Benedict XVI’s “Summorum Pontificum.”

A papal first happened on May 21: the Bishop of Rome conversed via satellite with the crew of the International Space Station, on the occasion of the space shuttle Endeavour’s last mission.

That was followed by another novelty: the first papal tweet. Benedict XVI launched the Vatican’s new news portal on June 28, eve of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.

The next day, the Church celebrated with the Pope as he marked the 60th anniversary of his priestly ordination.

And June closed with the awarding of the first three Ratzinger prizes in theology.

On July 5, the Pope visited the headquarters of L’Osservatore Romano on the 150th anniversary of its foundation. Its first edition appeared July 1, 1861.

And July is wrapping up with the declaration of the 179th nation to establish diplomatic relations with the Vatican: Malaysia.

Benedict XVI has already spent part of 2011 traveling: He made a two-day trip to Aquileia and Venice in early May, and a two-day trip to Croatia in early June. June 19 included a pastoral visit to the Diocese of San Marino-Montefeltro.

Five cardinals died during these months: On April 18, Cardinal Giovanni Saldarini, retired archbishop of Turin, Italy, at the age of 86; on May 1, Cardinal Agustín García-Gasco y Vicente, retired archbishop of Valencia, Spain, at the age of 80; on June 30, Cardinal Georg Maximilian Sterzinsky, retired archbishop of Berlin, Germany, at the age of 75; on July 21, Cardinal Kazimierz Świątek, retired archbishop of Minsk-Mohilev, Belarus, at the age of 96; and on July 24, Cardinal Virgilio Noè, retired archpriest of the Vatican Basilica, at the age of 89.

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