Pope Benedict XVI and church leaders will begin their annual Lenten Retreat on Sunday

Vatican City, Feb. 5, 2008 (vaticans.org) - Pope Benedict XVI and the leaders of the Roman Curia will begin their annual Lenten Retreat on Sunday, February 10.

Cardinal Albert Vanhoye, SJ, the former rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, has been appointed by Pope Benedict as the preacher for this year's retreat. The French Jesuit scholar also secretary to the Pontifical Biblical Commission from 1990 to 2001, serving under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger-- who, in 2006, elevated Father Vanhoye to the College of Cardinal s.

The Lenten Retreat, held in the Redemptoris Mater chapel of the apostolic palace, includes three preached meditations each day along with Mass and Benedict , Eucharistic adoration, and the Liturgy of the Hours, and ample time for private prayer and contemplation.

During the week-long retreat, all papal audiences will be cancelled-- including the regular weekly public audience on Wednesday-- and the regular operations of Vatican offices will be significantly slowed as top officials join the Pope for the spiritual exercises.


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