Pope Benedict gathers some of his former theology students on Friday for a private weekend debate on evolution and religion, an issue conservative Christians have turned into a political cause in the United States.
Benedict, who taught theology at four German universities before rising in the Catholic Church hierarchy, has pondered weighty ideas with his former Ph.D students at annual meetings since the late 1970s without any media fuss.
But his election as pope last year and controversies over teaching evolution in the United States have aroused lively interest in this year's reunion on September 1-3 at the papal summer residence of Castel Gondolfo outside Rome.
Religion and science blogs are buzzing about whether it means the Vatican will take a more critical view of evolution and possibly embrace "Intelligent Design," which claims to have scientific proof that human life could not have simply evolved. [Entire Story]