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Papal spokesman notes highlights of 2011 for Benedict XVI

Catholic World News - December 29, 2011

Looking back across the year 2011, the director of the Vatican press office saw papal voyages abroad, the beatification of John Paul II, the inter-religious meeting in Assisi, and the “new evangelization” as major landmarks for Pope Benedict XVI.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Father Federico Lombardi spoke at some length about the Pope’s foreign travel. In Germany, he recalled, the Pontiff underlined the importance of making room for God in a culture increasingly dominated by secularism. The Vatican spokesman said that Pope Benedict’s address to the German parliament would be remembered as one of the most important speeches of this pontificate.

When the Pope visited Spain for World Youth Day, Father Lombardi remarked, the theme of the trip was quite different. In Madrid the Pontiff was addressing an enthusiastic young audience, and the event highlighted the vitality of the rising generation of Christians. In Benin later in the year, the Pope again was struck by the vigor and joy manifested by the faithful, the papal spokesman said. Each of these trips could be seen as reflecting the Pope’s keen interest in the new evangelization, Father Lombardi said, while the Pope’s apostolic exhortation on Africa, Africae Munus, should be recognized as a masterful presentation of the needs of that continent.

The new evangelization was a consistent theme of Pope Benedict’s work in 2011, Father Lombardi said. He pointed to the emergence of the new Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, and especially to the Pope’s proclamation of a special Year of Faith beginning in October 2012. Next year’s meeting of the Synod of Bishops will be dedicated to the same theme, Father Lombardi noted.

The year 2011 also saw Pope Benedict acting constantly as a teacher, the papal spokesman said. He called attention to the Pope’s talks at his weekly public audiences, organized into series of meditations on the influence of the Church fathers and on the subject of prayer. He also mentioned the Pope’s books on Jesus of Nazareth, saying that a 3rd volume, on the infancy of Christ, is still to come.

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