By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
tFamously, the Vatican has its own sense of time, and today is a good reminder of the point. In the rest of the Northern Hemisphere summer officially began this year on June 21, but in the Vatican summer really begins today, after the conclusion of Pope Benedict XVI’s General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, when the pontiff heads for Castel Gandolfo.
tThe Prefecture of the Papal Household has announced that while Benedict is at his summer residence, all private and special audiences will be suspended, and for the next three weeks (July 14, 21 and 28), there won’t be any general audiences either.
In effect, that means Benedict won't be doing much official business for the rest of the month. Among other things, that could afford him time to put the final touches on the second volume of his book Jesus of Nazareth. The pope told American Rabbi Jacob Neusner, whose writings Benedict quoted extensively in the first volume, that the manuscript was essentially complete in a meeting in a January. The writing had been slowed down last summer when Benedict broke his wrist at the start of his summer vacation.