VATICAN CITY, JAN. 1, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The director of the Vatican press office has taken a look at the highlights of 2011.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi did his “year in review” during an interview with Vatican Radio.
He first turned his attention to the Pope’s trips, noting that the visit to Germany in September had reflected the Holy Father’s concern to speak to modern secularized society, especially in Europe, about God and His primacy. By contrast, his visit to Spain for World Youth Day was “a great experience of the vitality of the faith, of its future.”
In Benin, Benedict XVI signed the postsynodal apostolic exhortation “Africa munus” in which he examines the problems facing Africa and “identifies reasons for realistic hope with which to face the future, recognizing the dignity of the African people.”
Another key moment of 2011 was the interreligious meeting at Assisi in October, which focused on the search for truth. The event was attended not just by representatives of various religious confessions, but also by “people who, though they do not recognize a God, sincerely seek after the truth.”
Among the documents published during 2011, Fr. Lombardi mentioned “Porta Fidei,” with which Benedict XVI proclaims a “Year of Faith” to begin in October 2012. This, he noted, is associated with one of the great themes of the pontificate: new evangelization. The spokesman also recalled the recent Mass to mark the independence of various Latin American countries, during which the Pope announced his trip to Mexico and Cuba, scheduled for March 23-28.
At Christmas every year the Holy Father makes special visits of solidarity, and this year’s took him to the Roman prison of Rebbibia where he gave spontaneous answers to questions put to him by the inmates. That meeting, said Fr. Lombardi, shows “how the Church, though recognizing that civil society has legislative responsibility for dramatic issues such as justice and prisons … can send out a strong message … about reconciliation, hope and reintegration into society.”
Also during 2011 the Pope was able to speak with astronauts orbiting the earth on the international space station, “thus underlining with great willingness and joy the Church’s benevolence toward scientific research and technology, when they serve the good of humanity.” The beatification of John Paul II was another key moment of the past year, which “mobilized the entire Church” and was met “with immense delight.”
The year also saw the publication of part two of Joseph Ratzinger’s book “Jesus of Nazareth,” focusing on the death and resurrection of Christ. “We continue to hope,” Fr. Lombardi concluded, “that he will write a third volume, on the infancy, in order to complete this extraordinarily vivid and profound presentation of Jesus for us today.”