Ups and downs in the service of the lord

Pope Benedict XVI has had a somewhat quieter week. after the exhausting Easter celebrations. In the rural tranquility of his summer residence, Castelgandolfo, south of Rome, the head of the church on Thursday celebrated his 82nd birthday. The first birthday, as always rather quietly and together with his brother Georg, who is three years older than him. Benedict XVI worked on the side. on speeches for the Middle East trip in May – one of the most difficult missions of his pontificate, which enters its fifth year on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the waves around the traditionalist affair have subsided. The Vatican is hopeful that the lifting of the excommunication of the four Lefebvre bishops, including Holocaust denier Richard Williamson, will not politically or religiously affect the pope's visit to Israel. Everyone involved has an interest in making it a successful trip. Benedict XVI. set high goals for his visit to Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories. In his Easter message, he announced his strong commitment to reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. On the level of dialogue with Judaism, important informal meetings were already held at the Vatican in February and March. You should help to ensure that the Pope's meetings with Jewish representatives in Jerusalem are free of false expectations or fears. This also applies to sensitive ies such as the status of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) – the course of dialogue adopted at that time is not in question, according to the pope – and the role of Pope Pius XII. (1939-58) in the Nazi era – it is to be further illuminated in bilateral investigations.

Speech to the United Nations Right at the start of his fourth year in office last April, Benedict XVI delivered. Before the United Nations in New York, the most significant political speech so far since his election. In it, he swore the international community to respect human rights and to show solidarity with the victims of globalization. Also in the U.S., it showed an unusually offensive approach to the explosive ie of sexual abuse by clerics. Not least through a meeting with victims, the pope gave his church new credibility. The same theme accompanied Benedict XVI. in July to Australia. Here, too, he demonstrated clarity on the matter and sensitivity towards the victims in statements and gestures on the fringes of the World Youth Day in Sydney. By contrast, during his trip to secular France in September, headlines were made for the Pope's redefinition of the separation of church and state while calling for a stronger public role for religion.

St. Paul's Year Benedict XVI set a spiritual focus. with the still until 29. June Paul Year to commemorate birth of missionary to nations 2.000 years. He devoted 20 half-hour lectures during his general audiences to the life and theology of the apostle – an expression of the pope's efforts to strengthen the foundations of faith among his own church people. The same concern determined the World Synod of Bishops in October, which revolved around the Bible in the life of the Church. Contact with Islam took a step forward: a good two years after the Regensburg speech, the first Catholic-Islamic forum met in November in the Vatican at the suggestion of 138 Muslim intellectuals. The beginning of the year was overshadowed by the controversy over the reconciliation gesture toward traditionalists. Benedict XVI. Admitted Vatican mishaps. His explanatory letter to the bishops of the world was also a kind of vote of confidence: bitterly he lamented a "biting and tearing" in his own ranks. For the first time, Benedict XVI. a trip to Africa; what he said in Cameroon and Angola about political and social grievances was registered locally as a trenchant unilanguage – also the condom criticism of the pope was found in the host countries conceivably unexciting. Different in Europe: There the statement on the outbound flight made headlines; the Vatican press staff once again had to do some rework. For this, Benedict XVI. won a lot of sympathy points in Italy for his actions after the earthquake in Abruzzo: His visit to the disaster region is likely to be the first official trip of his fifth pontificate, ahead of Jordan and Israel. In addition, a trip to the Czech Republic is on the agenda this fall. And Berlin also expects a visit from Benedict XVI. – sometime during his sixth year in office.

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Christina Cherry
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