Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Synod, saints, shroud all on papal calendar for 2010

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As Pope Benedict XVI says goodbye to 2009, his 2010 calendar is already being filled.

On the horizon for the next 12 months are four papal trips; a Middle East Synod of Bishops; the expected publication of a document on the Bible and the second volume of "Jesus of Nazareth;" a major gathering of the world's priests; a pilgrimage to the Shroud of Turin; a probable consistory and several likely canonizations and beatifications -- including that of Pope John Paul II.

In April Pope Benedict marks five years in office, and the event will no doubt be marked by modest festivities and lots of analysis on the accomplishments and priorities of the German pontiff, who turns 83 the same month.

Several of his endeavors are works in progress, like the ongoing negotiations with the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X and the effort to bring its leaders back into full communion. No breakthrough is guaranteed in 2010, but Vatican officials say that, at the very least, the picture should be much clearer as twice-a-month meetings proceed.

January brings traditional papal liturgies and meetings, including an encounter Jan. 11 with the diplomatic corps accredited to the Vatican. Six days later, Pope Benedict will visit Rome's synagogue for the first time, an event that has added drama since the pope's recent decision to advance Pope Pius XII's sainthood cause.

The new year also means a new slate of "ad limina" visits by groups of bishops around the world. Although the visits traditionally are made every five years, the interval has grown longer recently, and it now appears that U.S. bishops, who last came in 2004, will not be making their "ad limina" visits until 2011 -- or even later.

The pope's second volume on the life of Jesus is expected to be released in the spring, although translations may take a little longer. It's expected to cover Christ's childhood, passion, death and resurrection.


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