Monday, October 24, 2005

The Church Awakening?

If there are any readers of this humble outfit in Passau, take notes.

The German Desk has briefed me on what sounds to be an interesting symposium tonight at the Passau Publishing Group's Media Centre on "Pope Benedict XVI: The Church Awakening" and what to expect of his pontificate.

They've got an all-star lineup. The moderator will be Stephan Kulle, a journalist who covered the interregnum for German television in Rome. Georg the Papstbruder -- fresh from a weekend with Joseph -- will headline. Also speaking will be Abbot Odilio Lechner, a Benedictine who I'm told is quite influential with the progressive strain of German Catholicism, and Professor Gesine Schwan, who clashed with then-Cardinal Ratzinger on the issue of abortion counseling, which was supported by the German bishops but firmly rejected by the Holy See.

On the conservative side, the evening will feature two members of Ratzinger's social circle: Princess Alessandra Borghese and the social commentator Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, seen here, accompanied by her daughter Elizabeth, greeting her man after Thursday night's gala concert, which was sponsored by her publication of choice, the German magazine Bild.

I'm told that Gloria -- or TNT, as she's often known -- has raised eyebrows in statements she's made about Africa, and the spread of the AIDS pandemic on the continent. A reformed wild child once known as the "punk princess," she credits Ratzinger (whom she calls her "model and hero") with her return to the church. She in turn converted Borghese, who refers to TNT as "Apostle."

Should make for an interesting evening.



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