Thursday, April 12, 2007

Vatican Notes

A Vatican press conference tomorrow will mark the rollout of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI's Jesus of Nazareth, a personal project the Pope has termed "my personal search for the face of the Lord."

While the book's Italian, German and Polish editions will be available for purchase on Monday, the English edition (a Doubleday production) won't be hitting the shelves 'til mid-May. Doesn't mean you can't pre-order it, though... and those who haven't done so already can check out the preface.

The author won't be addressing the media briefing, himself; in his stead will be Cardinal Christoph Schönborn OP, the archbishop of Vienna (and a doctoral student of Ratzinger), and two lay theologians, both Italians.

The Holy See confirmed this morning that the Fluff -- whose own doctoral thesis focused on "the notion of the people of God in [the writings of] St Augustine -- will visit the tomb of the "son of tears" in a two-day trek to northern Italy later this month.

Arriving on the 21st in tiny Vigevano, Benedict will celebrate an evening liturgy there, going the next day to Pavia, where the North African convert, bishop and doctor of the church is buried. Augustine "defines the essence of the Christian religion," then-Cardinal Ratzinger once said in an address. "He saw Christian faith, not in continuity with earlier religions, but rather in continuity with philosophy as a victory of reason over superstition."

Yesterday, the final plans for next month's six-day papal trip to Brazil were released; over the course of his first Transatlantic trip since 1998, the Pope will hold meetings with young people, the Brazilian bishops and the country's president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Only two public Masses are scheduled, each of which has been allotted two hours and 15 minutes, stem to stern: the Sao Paulo canonization of Brazil's first native-born saint, Bl Frei Galvao (1739-1822), a Franciscan and, on the visit's last day, the liturgy to kickoff the decennial plenary assembly of the CELAM, the regional episcopal conference of Latin America, which is being held at the Shrine of Aparecida... which sanctuary, the Redemptorists want you to know, is theirs.

On the ground in the world's most-populous Catholic country, plans for the visit are being overseen by Archbishop-elect Odilio Scherer, the outgoing general secretary of the Brazilian bishops' conference, who will be installed as archbishop of Sao Paulo on 29 April, ten days before the Pope lands in the city.

And finally, two years after a little contretemps between the Holy See and a certain New York-based journal, it seems that these days, Rome + America = Nice-Nice. The associate editor of the Jesuit weekly, Fr Jim Martin, got to share his Life With the Saints yesterday with the worldwide audience of Vatican Radio's English program, and next week's edition of the magazine will feature an interview with Cardinal William Levada, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

More on the latter later.