Pope absent as Vatican Advent retreat begins
The Vatican has failed to explain the absence of Pope John Paul II at the annual Advent retreat that began at the Vatican on Friday.
Ordinarily the Holy Father participates in the weekly sermons that form the Advent retreat, and the Vatican had previously announced that he would attend this year's retreat.
The Vatican revealed only that the Pope is cutting back his schedule to preserve his strength for the Christmas season.
Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher for the papal household, is preaching the Friday meditations, which are attended by the leaders of the Roman Curia. The retreat is being held in the Redemptoris Mater chapel at the Vatican.
On Friday, the Vatican announced that the Holy Father has invited the street-sweepers of Rome to visit his Christmas crib, rather than travelling outside the Vatican walls to visit their crib. That invitation preserves an annual meeting with the street-sweepers, but it breaks a tradition that dates back to the days of Pope Paul VI.
Catholic World News
Advent sermons start today in Redemptoris Mater Chapel (Vatican Information Service)
9 Dec 2002