Sunday, March 30, 2008

Benedict's Birthday Party and other "Unofficial" Meetings

The Washington Times reports that the Holy Father "has two schedules for his upcoming U.S. visit: A jampacked list of official events and an unofficial schedule of evening meetings" -- including a birthday party at the Italian Embassy featuring world-famous tenor Placido Domingo.

The splashy April 16 party — in celebration of the pope turning 81 — is sponsored by all eight former and current U.S. ambassadors to the Vatican. Several hundred people are invited.

The pope — who will meet that afternoon with U.S. Catholic bishops at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Northeast, is not expected to make the party's 6:30 p.m. kickoff time.

In fact, he's not even been officially invited . . .

Say what? -- Not even a formal invitation?
"It's really not in his tradition to attend parties," explained Mr. Melady, now senior diplomat in residence at the World Institute of Politics. "His happiest days were when he was a young priest and teaching at the seminary."
According to the article a number of notable guests will be in attendance, including Vice President Dick Cheney, former ambassador to the Vatican Raymond Flynn, Austin Ruse (president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute) and American Enterprise scholar Michael Novak.

According to Flynn, there are several "off the record" meetings involving the Pope:

"There are private conversations and discussions with people here. I think they want to keep those meetings as private as they possibly can. They [the Vatican] will release an official schedule, but they'll leave a lot out." ... Robert George, a leading Catholic scholar at Princeton University, implied he'd be meeting privately with the pope in Washington but refused to divulge details.
Given the Princeton scholar's role on the President's Council of Bioethics (a topic of concern for the Pope), one can only speculate.