Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Meet the Press, B16 Edition

For those keeping count, that's now two computers in six days.

As the Pope begins to wind into his summer schedule, he's taken to tooling around the Vatican for some light-hearted engagements, the latest of which came this morning with a congratulatory visit to the newsroom of L'Osservatore Romano four days after the house organ marked its 150th anniversary.

In seemingly off-the-cuff remarks to the daily's editor, Gian Maria Vian, and his staff, the pontiff said that "for a long time" he's been "really curious to see how a newspaper is made today, where it's born, and to meet the people who make our paper." Having been given a look at the modern, digital-heavy production process (above), B16 said that "it requires, we could say, much more human creativity than technical work."

Citing the group's mission as one of "knowing, thinking, judging and reflecting," the publisher of L'Osservatore told his news-team that "yours isn't just an office: it's above all a great observatory... to see the realities of the world and inform us all of these."

Adding that some outlets "give information with a preoccupation on their own part of the world, and forget many other parts of it, that are no less important," Benedict said the Vatican daily's commitment to "universal information" from far-off locales provided a true service.

"The meeting of the Urbs et Orbis [the city and the world] is characteristic of Catholicism," he said, "and in a sense, it's also a Roman trait: to truly see the world and not just ourselves."

* * *
Later in the week, the Pope is scheduled to leave Rome for his summer downtime at the Vatican's "Camp David": Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer villa about 45km (30 miles) outside of Rome.

In a change from prior vacation seasons, Benedict and his five-member household won't be spending two weeks of July at a mountain cottage in Northern Italy. The rented arrangements said to have proven a little too cramped for anyone's enjoyment, the pontiff's fondness for "Castel" is well-known, and -- the summer being his usual time to bore into his major writing -- he's expected to be working there on the third and final book of his Jesus of Nazareth trilogy, the second volume of which was released earlier this year.

Begun before his election with an eye to consuming him in retirement, much as completing the Jesus series has been the Pope's chief priority, as last week saw two years since the publication of his social manifesto Caritas in Veritate, it's curious that no word has recently emerged of any prospect for a next edition of what's normally the most consequential writing a pontiff does: a fourth encyclical.

Though Benedict won't return to the Apostolic Palace until late September, this year's stay in the Alban Hills will be interrupted by two trips: to Madrid for next month's World Youth Day (where, in a first, he'll hear confessions during the church's "Olympic event"), and mid-September's state visit to Germany, the Pope's third return to his homeland since his 2005 election.

PHOTOS: Reuters, Getty