Coming Soon: The Benedict Report
In a Roman Noon statement, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi, relayed that the pontiff sat for a full week of on-record conversations last month with Peter Seewald -- the German journalist whose prior no-holds-barred sessions with the then-CDF prefect were released in 1996 under the title Salt of the Earth, with a 2002 sequel, God and the World.
An atheist on his first encounters with Ratzinger, Seewald has credited Benedict with his conversion. Prior to the latest Seewald chats, the lone interview B16 has conducted since his 2005 election was an hourlong 2006 sitdown at Castel Gandolfo with four German reporters in advance of his homecoming trip to Bavaria... that said, one can't leave out the numerous question-and-answer sessions with groups of clerics, children and students which have become one of the German Pope's most preferred outlets for floating ideas and reaching beyond the bubble of the Papal Apartment.
Of course, the latest interview comes at a crucial moment in Benedict's five-year reign, following this year's European deluge of revelations of clergy sexual abuse and cover-ups perpetrated by church officials, with attempts being made to lay the scandals' trail at the Pope's doorstep. While no indicators of the sessions' content have yet emerged, amid the fallout of a crisis where, it could be said, the only voice missing was his, the backdrop's emergence in the conversations, even tangentially, would appear to be conspicuous by its absence.
On a related note, the third Seewald chat won't be the only new Ratzinger release hitting the shelves over the coming months: the Pope's second volume of his Jesus of Nazareth series is tipped for a Lenten release, most likely in March.
While 2007's first edition of the historical chronicle (Benedict's response to the Da Vinci Code craze) was released in English by Doubleday, the coming book is seeing a papal return to friendly confines -- Jesus II will be published by Ignatius Press, the San Francisco-based house that shepherded the pontiff's pre-papal works into the Anglophone world.
SVILUPPO: According to a German report picked up by the National Catholic Register's Edward Pentin, the book has the working title Das Licht Der Welt -- "The Light of the World."