Friday, November 02, 2007

PopeTrip '08: Back to School

While the official line, of course, remains that "nothing is confirmed until the Pope signs off on it," the framework of next spring's papal visit to the East Coast just keeps trickling out.

In but the latest indicator of the trip's foreseen 15-20 April timetable (currently expected to be limited to stops in Washington and New York), the customary 10 April celebration of Founder's Day at DC's Catholic University of America has quietly been pushed back a week in 2008.

The delay to 17 April -- with university calendars already noting that, aside from "essential services," the US church's official institute will be closed on the date -- seamlessly coincides with the currently-tipped final day of Benedict XVI's stay in the nation's capital. As Founder's Day commemorates the university's formal sanction by Leo XIII on 10 April 1887, postponing it to mark the second papal visit to the Brookland campus (the first since John Paul II's maiden US trip in 1979) would seem particularly appropriate.

In a further reflection of Catholic's status as the educational arm founded and governed by the American bishops, one of its larger facilities is also expected to host the expected papal address to the nation's hierarchy. The Pope's intent to spend a significant amount of time at the university was noted in the first published sketch of the visit's early plans, reported on these pages in mid-September.

The DC campus, however, isn't the only upcoming classroom stop the former Professor Ratzinger has on his calendar.

Shown above on his visit last year to the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Pope is slated to give a "lectio magistralis" later this month to open the academic year at the state-run University of Rome.

First reported by Robert Mickens in this weekend's edition of The Tablet, the "few people who even know" about the 30 November lecture haven't yet been briefed on its choice of topic, Mickens said.

Experience shows the heads-up would be desirable -- B16's last university lecture "ignited all sorts of debates that have yet to subside," the Rome correspondent reminded.

That address, delivered last year in the Pope's hometown, quickly became known by one word: Regensburg.