Orphaned when he was a young adult, the late Pope John Paul II had no family member to offer a portrait of his childhood and youth. In contrast, this book offers a unique glimpse of Joseph Ratzinger, the man who was to become Pope Benedict XVI. The oral reminiscences of his older brother Georg, who also became a priest, it offers a fascinating insight into the childhood and youthful influences which have shaped the Holy Father’s personality.
Mgr Ratzinger’s book is the result of five long sessions with his editor, Michael Hesemann, whose own contributions to the book are italicized passages linking the narrative and providing further explanations of episodes that his interviewee alludes to in passing. Thus it is a mixture of the conversational tone of personal memories and editorial insertions that provide the context.
Benedict XVI sent his first Twitter message this week (June 28) to announce the launch of the new Vatican website. His first tweet -- honouring the English language -- said: "Dear Friends, I just launched News.va Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI."
This video shows the Pope being instructed on the use of an iPad to send the tweet, and the big moment itself.
A programme about clerical sexual abuse aired January 17 by Irish broadcaster RTE attempted to prove that the Vatican had a worldwide policy encouraging bishops to conceal sexual abuse by priests. Reliable reporters say that the programme, aired just ahead of a Vatican-sponsored Apostolic Visitation of the Irish church, failed to make its claim stick.
The doco, “Unspeakable Crimes”, was based on a January 1997 letter from the papal ambassador to Ireland, communicating the opinion of the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy about a set of proposed Irish policies on priestly sexual abuse. It confirms, says John Allen of National Catholic Reporter, “that in the late 1990s the Vatican was ambivalent about requirements that bishops be required to report abuse to police and civil prosecutors.”
Pope Benedict is still “in the dock” over clerical sexual abuse as far as leading media are concerned.
“Evidence for the defence” was presented last week showing that the Pope asked for quicker and simpler procedures to discipline priests as far back as 1988 when he was head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office.
The new documentation, released online Wednesday by the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, appeared to defend the pope against claims that as head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office he was part of a culture of inaction and delay that failed to swiftly discipline priests who had abused minors. The New York Times reported:
The article cited in particular a 1988 letter that the pope, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, sent to the Vatican calling for “a swifter and simplified” procedure for disciplining priests “found guilty of grave and scandalous conduct.”
Apparently, not even the sophisticated U.S. intellegence services were able to penetrate the walls of the Sistine Chapel. According to sensitive U.S. documents fed to the Wikileaks website and deemed illegal by the State Department, Joseph Ratzinger's papal election came as a total surprise.
Pope Benedict's thoughts on the Jews and Israel in his book interview, though unfavourably heralded by out-of-context remarks on Pope Pius XII, receive attentive and positive coverage in a report in The Jerusalem Post.
Corresponent Lisa Palmieri-Billig notes that, in Light of The World, the Pope's book-length interview with Peter Seewald, "Benedict XVI speaks extensively on issues related to Israel and the Jewish world, confirming his unwavering personal commitment to both. He also explains the reasons for his conviction that Pius XII was “one of the great righteous men,” but without advocating further moves toward proclaiming him a saint."
Well, I’m glad that I am not handling Vatican public relations. Here’s a curly one about condoms from Joseph Ratzinger speaking as a private individual, and not as “The Vatican”, or “The Holy Father”. Understandably, it is difficult to separate the two, which is why we have a controversy. See Jack Valero, of Catholic Voices, a UK group, attempting to explain it to the BBC in the YouTube video above.
A federal U.S. judge is asking the Vatican to cooperate in serving the pope and two other top officials with court papers that stem from decades-old allegations of priest sexual abuse in Wisconsin.
The lawsuit, filed in April in U.S federal court, claims Pope Benedict XV, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, and his predecessor, Cardinal Angelo Sodano knew about allegations of sexual abuse at a Milwaukee area school for the deaf, and called off internal punishment of the accused priest. The Rev. Lawrence Murphy, who died in 1998, was accused of sexually abusing some 200 boys at the school from 1950 to 1974
The request is an incremental step in a lawsuit that accuses the officials of conspiring to keep the allegations against a Milwaukee priest quiet. The Vatican is not obliged to comply with the request.