April 30, 2013, Tuesday — Meeting with Peres
Today is the Feast of Pope St. Pius V (1504-1572), the Pope responsible for codifying the Tridentine rite of the Mass in 1570. He also declared St. Thomas Aquinas a Doctor of the Church.
In Rome, several important stories are “trending”:
1. Pope Francis to visit Israel? In the Vatican today, Pope Francis met with the President of Israel, Shimon Peres. The two men discussed the general Middle East situation, including the tragic civil war in Syria which has caused great suffering to the very ancient Christian community there, largely Orthodox. Peres invited Pope Francis to visit Israel, and Francis accepted the invitation, though with no date yet set. This suggests there could be a papal visit to the Holy Land in the not-too-distant future, perhaps already in 2014, a year from now. As Cindy Wooden of Catholic News Service reported today: “Talk about a possible papal trip to Israel already circulated in March after Pope Francis met Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Several news reports said the Orthodox patriarch suggested that he and the Pope meet in Jerusalem in 2014 to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic first step in Catholic-Orthodox rapprochement: the 1964 meeting there between Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras.”
2. Will John Paul II soon be made a saint? It is being rumored that the canonization of Blessed Pope John Paul II could occur as early as Sunday, October 20, later this year. This is not official! But rumors in recent days have been insistent that a second extraordinary healing attributed to John Paul’s intercession was recently approved in Rome, opening the way for a decree of canonization only 8 years after the Polish Pope’s death in 2005.
3. Reform of the Roman Curia? Many are wondering what changes Pope Francis may choose to make in the personnel and functioning of the Roman Curia. And in today’s April 30 edition, the Osservatore Romano published a wide-ranging interview on the matter with Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, 64, the current Substitute for General Affairs since his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI on May 10, 2011. (Becciu had previously been nuncio to Cuba.) Becciu says the Pope is moving without haste, deliberately, and that many observers are imagining changes that will not occur. He also says the Vatican Bank, contrary to some rumors, will not be closed by the new Pope.
4. The Return of Emeritus Pope Benedict to the Vatican. Two months and four days — so, 64 days — after he left the Vatican by helicopter for the summer papal palace in the small town of Castel Gandolfo outside of Rome, Emeritus Pope Benedict will return to the Vatican, by helicopter, on the evening of Thursday, May 2. He will live in a restored convent in the Vatican Gardens on a hill which rises behind St. Peter’s Basilica. This will bring him physically much closer to Pope Francis — about a 12-15 minute walk, depending how fast one walks — who is still living in the Domus Santa Marta, a Vatican guest house, and not in the Apostolic Palace which rises above St. Peter’s Square. There is no official word on what the relationship of the two men will be, whether they will meet to discuss theology and Church government, or not. Shortly before his February 28 renunciation of the papal throne, Benedict, now 86 (note that his brother, Georg, is 89 and in good health), stated that he would be “withdrawing into prayer” and would live out his remaining days “hidden from the world” (“nascosto dal mondo“). Benedict wears a white cassock with no a cape; Francis wears a white cassock with a short cape, the traditional clothing for a Pope.
5. Francis and his Marian Devotion. On Saturday, May 4, Pope Francis will go back to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, across Rome from St. Peter’s Basilica, to recite the Rosary. He went there on the first morning of his pontificate, on March 14. Also, on May 13 in Fatima, Portugal, the Patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal Jose da Cruz Policarpo, at the repeated urging of Pope Francis, will consecrate Pope Francis’s papacy to Our Lady of Fatima.