Friday: Extra Murem
After a midmorning "courtesy visit" in the former capital of Bonn with German President Horst Kohler, the Pope returns to Cologne for what will be the flashpoint event of the day in terms of news: the hour-long noontime visit to the Cologne synagogue, at which a major speech is planned. The recent tensions with Israel only heighten the attention with which this address will be watched and furiously parsed. Its contents are being closely guarded to prevent pre-delivery leaks.
The Synagogue speech is but the first of three substantive addresses planned for the day. After lunch with an invited group of young people at the Residence, Benedict will give his second major speech to as many seminarians present at World Youth Day as can fit in Cologne's church of St. Pantaleon. In light of the now-legendary "tribal chiefs" comment at Aosta about the vocations crisis not simply being one of numbers, but also one of quality, this will be the consequential discourse for Pope Ratzinger's vision of the church's internal future and what he seeks of the next generation of a "purer" ministerial priesthood. This will take place at 5pm Cologne time, 11am on the East Coast.
The Pope wraps his public day at 6.30pm CET, 12.30pm Eastern, when he receives an ecumenical gathering at the Archbishop's Residence. Here will take place the third speech of the day, his first major pan-ecumenical address since greeting the ecumenical leaders who came to Rome for the inauguration of his ministry in April. Given the context of Germany, and Joseph Ratzinger's longstanding and explicit appreciation, even love, for the figure of Martin Luther, look for Luther's shadow to be a conspicuous presence in the dialogue.
We will have much to digest this time tomorrow night.
PHOTO: REUTERS/Bundesregierung/Andrea Bienert/Pool