Opening the synod at St. Paul’s, not St. Peter’s

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI will open the world Synod of Bishops on the Word of God with an Oct. 5 Mass at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

The choice of location — the site of the Apostle Paul’s tomb — highlights the connection between the synod’s focus on the Bible and the special celebrations of the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of St. Paul, traditionally recognized as the author of 14 New Testament letters.

The Vatican put out the pope’s autumn liturgical calendar today and it made it quite clear the decks have not been cleared just because he’ll be meeting Monday through Saturday with synod members Oct. 5-26.

The October calendar also includes:

– An Oct. 9 Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII, the object of continuing controversy because of his words and actions during World War II.

– An Oct. 12 Mass in St. Peter’s Square to canonize: Italian Father Gaetano Errico, founder of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart; Swiss Franciscan Sister Maria Bernarda Butler, a missionary to Ecuador and Colombia; Indian Franciscan Clarist Sister Alphonsa Muttathupandathu, a mystic; and Narcisa Martillo Moran, an Ecuadoran laywoman renown for her dedication to prayer.

– An all-day visit Oct. 19 to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary in Pompei, Italy, for a morning Mass and evening recitation of the rosary.

– The Oct. 26 Mass closing the synod in St. Peter’s Basilica.

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