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New cardinals on the horizon as Pope Benedict faces a busy 2012


VATICAN CITY (CNS/Agencies): A trip to Latin America, a synod of bishops on new evangelisation, the start of the Year of Faith, creation of new cardinals and proclamations of new saints are all on Pope Benedict XVI’s calendar for 2012. 

These highlights are only a small part of the pope’s day-to-day schedule, which includes hundreds of meetings, speeches, messages and liturgies. Pope Benedict, who turns 85-years-old in April, also pursues a personal agenda of writing whenever he gets the chance, as he works to complete the latest in his Jesus of Nazareth series of books—this one on Jesus’ infancy and childhood. 

The pope will probably call a consistory to create new cardinals, as at least 13—including Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong—will have reached the age of 80, after which they may no longer vote for a new pope. 

A 28 December 2011 report on the website suggests the consistory may take place on the weekend of February 19, before the feast of the Chair of St. Peter on February 22.

Pope Benedict also plans to travel to Mexico and Cuba (see page 4) in March, a trip that will once again turn the spotlight on Latin America, home to nearly half the world’s Catholics. It will also move him onto the radar of the media of the United States of America (US), which has cut back its coverage of the pope and the Vatican in recent years. 

The pope may also travel to Lebanon at the invitation of the country’s leaders, possibly in the spring. Vatican officials have said the pope wants to deliver his follow-up document on the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, held at the Vatican in 2010. Such a visit would give the pope a high-visibility platform to weigh in on matters of religious freedom during a period of volatile political change in the region. 

The autumn will bring several important events, including the world Synod of Bishops, slated to run from October 7 to 28. New evangelisation has become the leitmotif of almost everything Pope Benedict does these days and the synod will help translate the term into practical pastoral initiatives. The essential idea is to find ways to energise Catholics, reminding them of their duty to witness to the faith publicly and proclaim it to others......


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