Pope begins summer holiday as Latin Mass debate rages
By Nicholas Rigillo Jul 9, 2007, 13:26 GMT
Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI began his summer holiday in the Italian Dolomites on Monday while a debate over his decision to lift restrictions on the traditional Latin Tridentine Mass raged in Rome and elsewhere.
The 80-year-old pontiff boarded a Falcon 900 private jet at Rome's Ciampino airport and arrived at Treviso's Istrana military airport shortly after 11.00 am (0900 GMT), the Ansa news agency reported.
Benedict plans to stay in the mountain resort of Lorenzago di Cadore, in the northern region of Veneto, until July 27. He will then spend the rest of the summer in his residence at Castel Gandolfo, in the hills south of Rome.
'The mountain air will do me good, and I will be free to devote my time to my prayers and thoughts,' he told the faithful gathered for Angelus prayers in Rome's St Peter's Square on Sunday.
Although he has not said so himself, experts believe the pope is likely to devote much of his thoughts to the concerned reactions by Jewish groups and liberals to his decision to revive the traditional Latin Mass.
The rite, which had become virtually obsolete since being replaced by a more modern version by the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, has been criticized by Jewish groups because of a Good Friday service call for the conversion of Jews to Christianity.
In a statement issued over the weekend, the head of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League in New York called Benedict's move a 'body blow to Catholic-Jewish relations.'
'We are extremely disappointed and deeply offended that nearly 40 years after the Vatican rightly removed insulting anti-Jewish language from the Good Friday Mass, that it would now permit Catholics to utter such hurtful and insulting words by praying for Jews to be converted,' Abraham H Foxman said.
Church officials note that Benedict has already indicated that the offending passage not be read out during the Good Friday service in Latin and argue that the move is primarily aimed at 'reconciliation within the Church.'
But while conservative members of the Church have welcomed the decision, its liberal wing has expressed reservations about the papal decree, with one Italian bishop going as far as saying he was 'in mourning.'
'It is a day of mourning, not just for me but for the many people who worked for the Second Vatican Council: A reform for which many people worked, with great sacrifice and only inspired by the desire to renew the Church, has now been cancelled,' Luca Brandolini of the liturgy commission of the Italian bishops' conference told daily La Repubblica on Sunday.
Benedict, who is known for his conservative stance on doctrinal matters, had not publicly addressed the controversy prior to his departure Monday and was unlikely to do so during his summer retreat.
While in Lorenzago the pope planned to hold two Sunday Angelus prayers, on July 15 and 22, but no mid-week general audiences.
Benedict typically spends his holidays in the mountains playing Mozart on an upright piano, writing, studying and signing Church documents.
He also likes to meditate and pick blackcurrants, blackberries and raspberries during long evening walks in the mountains, a former papal spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, wrote in an article for Monday's La Repubblica.
'Each pope has his own habits, but they are never totally on holiday,' said Navarro-Valls, who spent many of his summers in the company of Benedict and his predecessor John Paul II.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur