For those who've asked, everything's fine – the older one gets, the trickier it is to mix work-travel with the shop's usual monastic hum... add in trying to fix a still-down Page Three, and there goes what little time the road allows for writing. It's good to be back, but there's some cleaning up to do, and all feeds should be up and running again shortly.
That said, the summer – measured from next weekend's feast of Saints Peter and Paul (the unofficial close of the Vatican's working year) – usually does bring a slow period 'round here, but with the Pope again bucking tradition by declining his "Camp David" at Castel Gandolfo to remain in Rome, it remains to be seen what exactly the time will look like... not to mention the red-letter presence of World Youth Day in Rio, for which the first American pontiff is set to arrive on July 22nd.
While we're told that the audiences, semi-public daily Masses and most other business will be suspended in July to give the workers a break, beyond the WYD trip, it's still more than likely that Francis – a life-long homebody who's never spent his vacations getting away – will keep plodding through his "crash course" on the global church at the Domus, quietly receiving visitors and taking soundings straight through the Curial hiatus. As Vatican summer tends to extend into late September (the point when B16 would return from the Alban villa), the substance of the Franciscan reform is expected to start crystallizing in early October, when the Pope convenes the first meeting of his "gang of eight" cardinals, each of whom are expected to bring roughly a U-Haul's worth of policy proposals for the reshaping of the church's central government.
In the meanwhile, the week to come brings Rome's biggest gathering of church leadership since the Conclave as the dicasteries hold their wrap-up meetings and the last year's crop of archbishops arrive with their pilgrimages to receive the pallium on the 29th. Among the latter, of course, are four Americans: Cordileone of San Francisco, Tobin of Indianapolis, Sample of Portland and Jackels of Dubuque; five if you count Gintaras Grusas – the DC-born, 51 year-old archbishop of Vilnius who went to UCLA and worked for IBM before entering seminary.
Yet even beyond these, what's always been the Vatican's "old home week" will especially be that for Papa Bergoglio as Francis' hand-picked successor in Buenos Aires, now Archbishop Mario Poli, makes his first visit to his predecessor, apparently with planeloads from Argentina in tow.
In other words, they'll be rolling out the welcome maté at the Domus. Closer to home and for now, hope the season's off to a beautiful start for you and yours.