.- Former students of Pope Benedict have gathered in Castel Gandolfo for their annual summer seminar sometimes called the "Ratzinger Schulerkreis." According to L'Osservatore Romano, the theme of this year's encounter will focus on the Second Vatican Council.
Forty priests, professors, religious and laity will participate in the Pope's summer school which was first held for former students when Joseph Ratzinger became Archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1977. This year's meeting, according to the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano (LOR), runs from Aug. 27-30 and is comprised of the usual Austrian and German majority. Five other nations are also represented including India and South Korea.
LOR reported that the topic of the four-day seminar was chosen by the Pope himself from among several options proposed by the association of his former theology students. Also selected by the Pope was the main speaker, Archbishop Kurt Koch, the recently appointed replacement for Cardinal Walter Kasper as president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Archbishop Koch's addresses to the group will examine "The Second Vatican Council between tradition and innovation" and "Sacrosanctum concilium and the post-Conciliar reform of the liturgy."
Pope Benedict himself will be present at the meeting hall, located near the Castel Gandolfo town center, for several events on the schedule. After Archbishop Koch's Friday and Saturday sessions, the Pope will participate in discussions on the subjects he presents. Then, on Sunday morning, he will preside over Mass for his ex-students and join them, along with new members of the association, for breakfast.
As LOR described, three years ago a new group of people was admitted to the association of former students based on the fact that they have studied and written about the Pope's thought, although they never attended his classes.
Another major moment of the encounter will come on Sunday, when participants will gather in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo along with many other faithful and pilgrims to join the Pope in reciting the Angelus prayer.