Every year, Pope Francis would travel outside Rome to make his spiritual exercises with the cardinals. However, this year the Vatican announced that everyone will make the retreat on their own and the Pope will remain in the Vatican.
The exercises always begin on the first Sunday after Ash Wednesday and end on the following Friday. This year, it's February 26 to March 3, so the March 1 General Audience will be canceled.
Pope Francis invites the cardinals residing in Rome and high officials of the Curia to 'suspend their work and retire in prayer' during that week.
The news comes as a surprise as the Pope himself introduced the custom of making retreats outside Rome. Usually, the group travels by bus to a center run by the Society of St. Paul. The Pope often invites different priests to lead the retreats. In 2019, it was Fr. Bernardo Francesco Maria Gianni and the Pope was pleased with the guided meditations.
It made me laugh when you said someone, in only reading the titles of the meditations, couldn't understand what the goal was.
I was also a little disoriented in the first meditation, but later I understood the message. Thank you.
The Vatican has not explained the reason for the change, but the Pope's ongoing knee problems may have played a factor.