POPE-POURRI: 'Light' news items, anecdotes about Pope Benedict now

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00Saturday, August 19, 2006 2:25 PM


It sounds like these women will be attending the mass... how do they plan to actually be in labor BEFORE the mass starts... yeh pain control is a HUGE question... do these women think they're just going to be able to push the baby out IN FRONT OF EVERYONE?! My mind is working overtime hear... the idea fill me with fear for all those women and their babies!!!
00Saturday, August 19, 2006 4:44 PM
Birth at Mass?
Sorry, but I think these women are completely out of their mind.
I was at the Marienfeld during World Youth Day and it would never occure to me to (deliberatly!) give birth at such an overcrowded and remote place. They would set their babies and themselves at risk!

00Saturday, August 19, 2006 8:35 PM
RE: Birth at Mass
I'm sorry but these women seem cuckoo to me. What about the nearby neighbours at this Mass? Do they now have to watch the birth process while the Mass is in full swing?

Where I live many indigenous women used to deliver in the fields where they worked. It went quickly for most of them and they bundled up the new-born child and continued with their job... No big deal for them! But I just cannot see most Western females succeeding in similar birth givings. Well, what do I know? - never had a child....Just seems to me to be a rather private thing. [SM=g27833] [SM=g27833] [SM=g27833]
00Sunday, August 20, 2006 3:50 AM
....While the organizing committee for the Pope's visit to Bavaria did not simply shrug off the presumptuous request by Papa's obstetric fans, neither is there an indication so far that they will be accommodated in any special way, so for now, let us just leave this be as a curiosity and a 15-minute attention-getter in the media - an event that is unlikely to take place unless it was meant to be, i.e., not deliberately 'planned' (as though a natural birth could be planned and timed to the hour!)....

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 20/08/2006 3.59]

00Sunday, August 20, 2006 4:42 AM
oh dear Lord! that would be a really " happening" [SM=g27816] [SM=g27818] [SM=g27816] [SM=g27820]:
00Sunday, August 20, 2006 5:35 AM
Here's the latest development on Gunter Grass's 'story' ... He did end his Frankfuerter Allgemeine Zeitung interview - in which he first spoke of the 'Joseph story' in public, with the sentence "It's a beautiful story, don't you think?". A writer exercising artistic license, perhaps. In any case, not sure now that his Joseph was our Joseph! Here's a translation of an item in Corriere della Sera today:

The Nobel laureate's turnabout:
'That Joseph may not have been Ratzinger -
I am not sure, I can only assume"

By Giacomella Gabriella

"All right, hand over heart, Guenter - that boy you met at POW camp, was it really him who is now Benedict XVI?"

"I can only assume it was."

In his third interview in three days - following the 2-page interview in Frankfuerter Allgemeine Zeitung which set off a national ruckus preceding the publication of his autobiography - Guenter Grass is stepping back from his original assertions.

Questioning him this time were two journalists of the German news agency dpa. The question was direct, even urgent: was it or was it not Ratzinger whom he recalls playing dice with and conversing about their plans in life that summer of 1945?

Answer: "This recollection first came to me while I was writing
[the autobiography]. What is certain is that at Bad Aibling, this open-air mass detention camp for some 100,000 German POWs, I shared a hole in the ground with a young man of my age - we were both 17. He was Bavarian, intensely Catholic almost to the point of fanaticism, and was able, at age 17, to insert a Latin quotation from time to time in his conversations...He wanted to make it to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church; I wanted to be an artist, a famous one." That was the recollection.

Then - and this was about a year ago - "while I was writing the manuscript for my memoirs, a German became Pope. And I discovered that he was at Bad Aibling - of course I knew who Cardinal Raztinger was, I was familiar with his conservative views, his background and how he came to the forefront gradually. Suddenly, it seemed to me I knew this Joseph - the way he conducts himself, his shyness, his persistence, his sensitivity - and I could only suppose that the boy I met was him."

So, this was not a direct denial by Grass of something he previously said. Nor was it a statement from his literary agent to the effect that "Mr. Grass's statements have been misunderstood- we never said that the boy Joseph was to be identified as Ratzinger."

But it was a reply among many others - almost a reprise of those pages in Peeling the Onion(Sbucciando la Cipolla)*, the chapter called "At table with guests", in which the Nobel laureate recounts his meeting and dialogs with 'the grand inquisitor' Joseph, between games of dice and chewing cumin.

But in that "I can only assume it was he" one also hears the cackle of laughter from Grass's sister, an ex-nun, to whom he told the story soon after the conclave: "What a liar you are, you bastard!"

And the only person who can confirm or deny Grass's story is not going to speak up. "It's a question that concerns the private life of the Holy Father," the Vatican Press Office said yesterday, when asked by the dpa.

But in the narrow circle of Benedict XVI's close associates, no one recalls that he ever once mentioned any acquaintance with his illustrious countrymate.

The key to the mystery may lie in another passage from yesterday's interview with dpa, which also echoes the introduction to Grass's autobiography, in which he speaks about intermittent recollections, somewhat like "a salad of images."

To the dpa journalists, he said his new book was "not a classic autobiography, not one of those which set out facts and data in an orderly manner. Rather it is an attempt to rediscover the young man I was, who is unknown to me, and to interrogate him on how he acted in certain circumstances."

Both in writing and orally, Grass seems to be telling the public: Take me seriously, but not too much! This is a narrative work, not a historical reconstruction. There are holes in the story, jumps in time; and memory, which sometimes betrays, often does not help find answers either. Particularly, not the reason why 'I never asked questions.' [About the Nazis - given that the book discloses Grass actively sought to join the Nazi armed forces and ended up enrolled in the Waffen-SS.]

A considerable part of the book is impregnated with silences, shame and fear, and German media has concentrated on this aspect.

Meanwhile, the Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger, a Cologne newspaper, itself had to retract its story that the imminent declassification of an alleged dossier on Grass from the archives of the Stasi (East German secret police)had occasioned Grass's public revelation of his SS past.

Two peers of Grass issued statements of support in London and New York.

"It's a manufactured scandal," said Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses. "Grass remains today the same great writer that he was a few days ago."

John Irving, who wrote The World According to Garp, wmong others, said: "For me, he remains a hero, both as a writer and as a moral compass. His courage is more admirable, rather than diminished, with this revelation."

In his interview with ARD television, Grass had said that "if the mayor of Danzig [Gdansk, now part of Poland, Grass's hometown and setting of his Nobel-winning novel The Tin Drum] asks me to give up my honorary citizenship in Danzig, I would, but otherwise, I do not see any reason for doing so."

Meanwhile, the first printing of 150,000 of Peeling the Onion is almost sold out [within a few days], and the newspaper BILD has calculated that Grass has already earned some 1.7 million Euros in royalties.

His publisher, Steidl Verlag, is already printing a second edition of 100,000 copies, and 12 coutries have already bought publishing rights.

The intermittences of memory, it seems, are not a disdavantage to commercial success.

*The German title is Beim Hauten der Zwiebel so the correct translation is Peeling the Onion, not Peeling Onions.

The more the story progresses, the more doubts arise about Guenter Grass, especially about his POW-camp friendship with a fellow 17-year-old Joseph Ratzinger in Bad Aibling.

A memory which, in the interview Grass gave to Frankfuerter Allgemeine Zeitung published last Saturday, appeared quite clear, but now reduced by the author himself to a simple supposition that occurred to the writer when Ratzinger was elected Pope.

Some perplexity was originally raised because Grass, identified as an SS member (even in American documents of the time), should have been interned in an area separate from that of regular German armed forces, as Ratzinger surely was.

But it may be that Grass's age may have earned him a more gentle treatment by his American captors [and so he was interned with the regular forces].

Now it turns out that in the book, the pious Joseph with whom Grass played dice is in fact not explicitly identified as Ratzinger.

Grass's interview with dpa further muddies the waters. One gets the impression of a clever alternation between disclosure and stepping back. But while the doubts may continue to grow, the sales figures tell us that if this was a marketing strategy, it certainly works perfectly!

00Sunday, August 20, 2006 12:54 PM
So the final program is out for the Bavarian trip. And Papa's 'private day' in Regensburg still includes one public engagement - blessing a new organ. It turns out he will spend about 3 hours at Georg's home and 3 hours in his own home (during which he is supposed to decide what things he would like to take away with him, what things to give away, and what to do with the rest).

How infinitely poignant this trip will be for him - not knowing when, if ever, he may get to visit 'home' again!

WEDNESDAY, 9/13/06

07.30 Mass and breakfast at St. Wolfgang Seminary.

11.00 BLESSING OF THE NEW ORGAN FOR THE ALTE KAPELLE [OLD CHAPEL] of Regensburg. Prayer and greeting by the Holy Father.

11.45 Visit at the home of Mons. Georg Ratzinger, lunch and rest.

15.00 Travel by car from Mons. Ratzinger's home to the cemetery in Ziegetsdorf.


15.30 Visit to the cemetary and to the old Church of St. Joseph.


16.30 Private time in the Pope's house. Dinner.

19.30 Travel by car from Pentling to St. Wolfgang.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 20/08/2006 20.06]

00Sunday, August 20, 2006 1:08 PM
From the Vatican bulletin yesterday:

The Holy Father attended a presentation tonight (8/19/06) of Charles Peguy's 3-act drama "Le mystere de la charite de Jeanne d'Arc" (The mystery of Joan of Arc's charity) at the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo.

This was a presentation of the Archdiocese of Monaco in collaboration with the Embassy of Monaco to the Holy See.

The Holy Father deliverd an address in French [I will post a translation in HOMILIES, DICOURSES, MESSAGES as soon as I can.]
00Sunday, August 20, 2006 5:45 PM
Here is a translation of a brief news item from a German news agency today:

Frankfurt/Main (ddp)- Pope Benedict XVI has succeeded quite rapidly to project his own individual profile, says Cardinal Karl Lehmann in an interview with the FrankfuerteR Rundschau (issue of 8/19/06).

The Pope, Lehmann said, "has found his own amazing individual style in dealing with people, which is different from JoHn Paul II's more impulsive style."

Indeed, "he has stepped out of his great predecessor's shadow very well and very quickly," he added.

Benedict, who is visiting Germany next month, clearly finds joy in his office and is also more politically minded than people thought originally, according to Lehmann. That is why he has managed to take a stand on topical events, from the Middle East to nuclear issues.

Lehmann also expressed some relief that "Germans have so far not 'profited' from having a German Pope*, as many had expected from the initial euphoria," but added that, "ultimately, he is the Pope of the universal Church."


*I thought maybe I was not translating Lehmann's statement correctly, but judging from the perplexed comments of the girls in the German section at RFC, that is what he said - a strange statement to make, and something which I hope his interviewer asked him to clarify! I am trying to check the original news item.

00Sunday, August 20, 2006 6:41 PM

I have posted the whole Interview with Cardinal Lehmann in the German section. It can be found here:

The passage you're referring to is this:
Eigentlich haben wir bisher nicht so sehr davon profitiert, wie manche das in der ersten Euphorie heraufbeschworen haben. Aber das sage ich nicht mit Bedauern, denn der Papst ist Papst für die ganze Weltkirche.

I think "expressing relief" is not, what he actually did. He only said, that he doesn't feel a special regret, because the Pope is the Pope for the universal Church, and not only to be seen as a German.

There are passages in this interview, I feel much more uneasy about than this one. It is no secret, that he can say very strange things sometimes. Unfortunatly, he is quite popular in Germany.

[Modificato da mona24 20/08/2006 18.43]

00Sunday, August 20, 2006 6:51 PM
Dear Mona..Thanks for the lead to the entire interview! I will try to translate it in full later today.

This is the statement in the ddp news item that I translated -
"Der Kardinal zeigte sich erleichtert darüber...", and I do believe "sich erleichtern" translates as 'to feel relieved'.

However, it is obviously the reporter's choice of verb [thus subjectively characterizing Lehmann's words] to introduce the statement that follows, rather than a direct quotation of Lehmann, who clearly says "das sage ich nicht mit Bedauern" - I do not say that with regret... (However, Lehmann's statement to the effect that the Germans "have not up to now profited very much" from having a German Pope is still unclear - Profited how? Spiritually? Materially? If they have not profited spiritually, why would he not have any "regret"? If they have not profited materially [perhaps in the sense of commercializing the Pope], then why should he regret it?)

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 20/08/2006 19.05]

00Sunday, August 20, 2006 7:58 PM
Cardinal Lehmann and his Statements ...

However, Lehmann's statement to the effect that the Germans "have not up to now profited very much" from having a German Pope is still unclear - Profited how? Spiritually? Materially? If they have not profited spiritually, why would he not have any "regret"? If they have not profited materially [perhaps in the sense of commercializing the Pope], then why should he regret it

Dear Teresa,

that's exactly what I meant with the "strangeness" of the Cardinal's statements. It's always this way with him [SM=g27825]

To me (and this is only my very personal "interpretation") he was ment to say, that the Germans have to accept that there would be no special "papal treatment", because one have always to look at the universal church first.

(Maybe he secretly thinks, that it would be even much better not to get under too much papal influence. But of course he wouldn't say that loud [SM=g27816] )
00Sunday, August 20, 2006 7:59 PM
Here is a translation of an item from the Muenchner Merkur online edition - but alas, no picture!

A memorial honors
Moosach's most prominent priest

By Albert Meisl

The parish of St. Martin Moosach has erected a memorial stone to remember Pope Benedict XVI's work in the area.

Parish priest Martin Combensy inaugurated the memorial after Mass on Assumption Day. It has been erected beside the old parish house on Pelkovenstrasse, where Joseph Ratzinger lived and carried out simple parish duties for four weeks in August 1951.

Moosach was the young Ratzinger's first assignment after his priestly ordination. It is where he learned "how to conduct funerals."

Originally, Ratzinger had been assigned to be a chaplain in the parish of the Holy Blood in Bogenhausen, another district of Munich. But before he could begin work there, the parish priest of Moosach, Fr. Joseph Knogler, got sick. So Ratzinger was sent to take up his duties temporarily, and thus began his parish work in Moosach instead.

The weeks in Moosach were like a plunge into strange icy waters for the young priest. Instead of learning parish work gradually as a chaplain, he found himself having to carry it out himself like an experienced senior Church minister.

But he mastered his duties very well. Almost daily he had to conduct funeral services at the Westfriedhof (west cemetery). Later, he would say, "In Moosach I learned how to conduct funerals."

Stone sculptor Andreas Juengling, 42, fahioned the tapering 1.8-meter-high memorial from French limestone, a light-colored stone with a soft reddish hue. Even the isncriptions and Papal coat of arms are in red, "because I think that is the color of the Pope," Juengling said.

He himself mixed the paints to be used exclusively for the memorial. He says that he conceived and executed the work with "passion, feeling and purpose" in close collaboration with Fr. Combensy and the diocese.

He had to do everything fast because the commission had to be carried out in nine weeks, which, he notes, is "too short a time for such a commission."

Juengling has been in charge for years of the gravestones department for Steininger, a long-established Moosach stoneworks company.

"Since the memorial was to be financed with donations, our firm offered to do the work because it is a great honor, especially since the memorial will stay right here in the district," he said proudly.

The parish spent 3,000 Euros for the entire undertaking.


Quite opportunely, Sihaya in the main forum posted this previously unseen-by-most-of-us-I-daresay picture of the freshly-ordained Father Ratzinger, as he must have been when he was plunged into the thick of Moosach's parish work.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 21/08/2006 6.59]

00Sunday, August 20, 2006 9:33 PM
Here is a translation of the interview given by Cardinal Lehmann to Sabine Hamacher of the Frankfuerter Rundschau:

You know Joseph Ratizinger very well. Do you think he has changed as Pope?
I am not surprised by some changes which are however based on his personality only more strongly evident now. He appears to have completely lost all his shyness with regards to communication. He has found an amazingly individual style of dealing with people which is different from the perhaps more impulsive ways of John Paul II.

I am very happy that he has quite well and rapidly come out from the shadow of his great predecessor. He obviously finds joy in his office. Besides, he has turned out to be more political than one had thought. There is hardly any event, be it the near East or Iran, to which he has not responded relatively fast with a clear position. But he is not a man who would rule by political means. That is not his way.

His second German visit will bring Pope Benedict XVI to Munich, Altoetting, Regensburg and his birthplace Marktl. You will be part of the Papl entourage. Do you expect him to take other positions during this trip?
Those who know him also know, of course, that one should not try to understand him in a cheap and facile way. For instance, as Prefect of the CDF, he opened up the archives of the Inquisition - that was not an easy thing to do in Rome. But he was never a narrow-minded bureaucrat. Even his important personnel nominations - for instance, the Jesuit Father Lombardi to succeed Joaquin Navarro-Valls of the Opus Dei as Vatican press director - show how independent-minded he is.

German Catholics did not always have an easy time with his predecessor. will they be closer to a German Pope?
Really, we (Germans) have not up to now profited out of that [the Pope being German] very much. But I say that without regret, because the Pope is Pope of the universal Church. I just had not thought at the time of the Conclave that a German Pope was possible - because of recent history. In fact, this played no role whatsoever [in the choice of Pope].

But when the "Wir sind Papst" catchword went round the world, Benedict XVI very wisely drew back, and for instance, he has been speaking Italian in public predominantly. That is, of course, much remarked upon.

What do you hope for, from this second German visit?
The trip is strictly focused on Bavaria. I see the personal emphasis strongly in the foreground, and it is rooted in the fact that the Pope wished to come home once again. The few political meetings he will have are tokens of friendly relations. But of course, a Pope's travels are never private, and he will take on any questions out there.

What do you think he needs to speak about?
If the visit were official, one could expect a look at ecumenism. However, the Pope must consider the entire Catholic Church, so he must be theologically prepared. The evangelical criticism in Germany is that nothing much has happened ecumenically in Benedict's first year as Pope, but I think not only is that concern falsely addressed, but also that in point of fact, it is not true. Just think of the many conversations with the Orthodox Churches. In addition, Cardinal Walter Kasper, who is the Pope's "Ecumenical Minister", will be travelling with him.

How will you be meeting Benedict?
Even within the Papal delegation, one does not have much opportunity to speak to him directly because the program is so full. And if we did, it is not as if we could talk for hours, because the Pope has many duties, and also needs time to rest in order to prepare for the next day.

What has remained from World Youth Day and the Pope's first visit to Germany?
There is a new impulse born out of WYD. There were highlights which spread through the inner world of the Church itself. I was amazed myself that even Benedict has been able to establish with the youth an intimacy for which his predecessor was famous. [Rather condescending, don't you think?]

Now, hoewver, all people of good will should take care that the impulse from WYD does indeed bear fruit.

How should that be realized concretely?
Of course, it should play out first of all in the dioceses and on local ground. But one feels a great capacity for enthusiasm. somewhat like that shown by the young ministrants who came to Rome recently on pilgrimage.

At present, we may have only minorities who have been more strongly affected, but many changes have been brought about even by small groups.

The Pope has said he will lead the Church out of "being resigned to decreasing members and lack of priests." How will be do that?
There are many new signs. For instance, he has said that one should not emphasize norms so much, especially not in the sense of prohibitions, but that we must first bring out the meaning of Catholic doctrine. That must be concretized. How are we then to teach about the pill or condoms?

Of course, he is not expected himself to formulate these approaches - for that, we have specialized commissions - but he must give them the specific assignments.

I am not at all saying that the positions of the Church will change in this respect, but that the basis for such positions should be made more plausible to the people.

However, his visit is not so much about clarifying church positions but what he is as a man, a bishop and Pope. The supreme Pontiff is visiting his homeland - and he is one of us.

Has the Church been reduced to (the status of) merely providing a framework for events?
In our present society, that cannot be completely avoided, and it is something that can be ambivalent. I have learned to be more charitable about such things. If some people get their kicks out of Pope-beer and Pope-bread, then fine - as long as
the important thing remains, namely an enthusiasm for, or at least, an interest in the contents of the faith.

P.S. Thanks to Andrea who helped out with the translation of the last question!

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 21/08/2006 1.08]

00Monday, August 21, 2006 8:04 AM
Thanks to Mona in the German section for the lead to this story from the Passauer Neue Presse, here in translation -

Marktl (rp). The Spruederers of Marktl have had something to do with the Ratzingers for decades. And not only through Grandma Berta, 90, who kenew the Pope's parents personally.

When Joseph Ratzinger was named Honored Citizen of Marktl in 1997, Christine Spruederer served him as altar assistant at the parish church of St. Oswald.

Earlier, her eight-year-old sister Johanna had the privilege of welcoming the guest of honor with a poem, a bouquet of flowers and a big smile. A photo of that occasion is found in one of the recent biographies about the Pope [Peter Seewald's "Benedict XVI: A Close-up Portrait"].

"It is for us a great honor, that today you come to us in Marktl..." begins the poem with which Johanna greeted the honoree.

How was she chosen to welcome the Prefect of the Cognregation for the Doctrine of the Faith? The now-17-year-old Johanna says today: "Because I have a loud voice and I am not shy."

"I was quite nervous because obviously, you don't get such an important visitor every day," she recalls. "But as I started to recite, the nervousness went away."

Her mother was more atwitter. Maria Spruederer had dressed Johanna in a smart linen dirndl and plaited her long hair into pretty braids. And although Johanna has long outgrown the dirndl, her mother still keeps it in the wardrobe along with the hair clasps Johanna wore when she met Cardinal Ratzinger.

Nine years have passed since that meeting. The Cardinal is now Pope Benedict XVI. And Johanna is 17 and studying to be an industrial buyer.

Johanna Spruederer at 17.

But she remembers that meeting on July 13, 1997. "The Cardinal came to me and was unbelievably friendly. I knew right away that this was a totally special man."

When Pope Benedict XVI returns to Marktl a few weeks from now, Johanna will be there, of course, but this time, not in the welcoming committee.

"I will be with friends, we will stand at the Marktlplatz, and we will wave to him."

Unlike 1997, when the Cardinal stayed two days in Marktl, this
time, it will be a very short visit. Because of time considerations, the Pope's visit to his birthplace will only last 15 minutes, which he will spend at the parish church of St. Oswald.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 22/08/2006 0.22]

00Monday, August 21, 2006 11:17 PM
Another strange story about some people's odd 'fascination' for the Pope - even if, in this case, the motivation may be commercial. But imagine hawking water from the Pope's garden faucet on e-bay! Mona in the German section posted this story (translated here) from the Mittelbayerische Zeitung today.

PENTLING, District of Regensburg: Witnesses informed police on Friday night, August 18, that unknown men clad in white overalls and dust masks drove to the Pope's house around 7:30 p.m. Two of them got out with a box full of empty water bottles and walked towards the fence of the property while a third man filmed them.

Then one of the masked men climbed over the garden fence and approached the house. He took a hose and used it to fill up the empty water bottles. After witnesses called their attention to what they were doing, they left, driving in the direction of Regensburg.

All these actions - climbing the fence, filling up the bottles and filming the action - were also documented by a fourth man with a videocamera.

Later, the Regensburg police, after getting a search warrant, went through the rooms of a 47-year-old resident of Regensburg where they confiscated a number of film and video cassettes.
The criminal division is looking into charges of housebreaking.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 22/08/2006 0.18]

00Friday, August 25, 2006 9:43 PM
TRANSLATION ALERT - Ratz-Lella has just posted two lengthy articles from korazym.org in the SPQR sub-section of the BENEDETTO XVI NEWS thread in the main forum for me to work on tonight! One is about some bells donated by parishioners to the St. Michael Seminary in Traunstein, which Papino attended, and the other about an ex-priest who sought dispensation to leave the priesthood and get married more than 20 years ago, while he was on the faculty of one of the pontifical universities in Rome - and his dispensation was facilitated by no less than the prefect of the CDF, Cardinal Ratzinger. Wonderful example for all those Catholic priests who want to get married and stay priests - whatever for, I could never figure out, except that they do so out of overweening pride [their ego-driven will to violate a 2000-year principle of the Church overrides every other consideration].
00Monday, August 28, 2006 7:51 AM
Benaddicts would be familiar with the story of the Munich banker who became a friend of Joseph Ratzinger when he was Archbishop of Munich and who subsequently has rendered various personal services to the man who is now Pope. His story was one of the more fascinating glimpses into the private life of Joseph Ratzinger in the days following the Conclave.

Well, apparently, the relationship has not diminished with the Cardinal's elevation to the Papacy. Here's a good riposte to those who think this Pope is 'lonely' or 'isolated.' Thanks to Benedetto-fan in the German section for posting this interview from ZDF, the second German TV network. Here is a translation

Thaddäus Kühnel speaks
about his friend the Pope

By Janina Müller, 28.08.2006

Courier, chauffeur, confidante...For 28 years, Munich bank director Thaddaeus Kuehnel has been friends with the man who is now Pope Benedict XVI.

They first met each other in 1978 at the House of the Merciful Sisters in Bad Adelholzen, early in Ratzinger's tenure as Archbishop of Munich. The friendship continued even after he was called to Rome to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith five years later.

In an interview, Kuehnel speaks of old times as well as his new experiences with his friend the Pope.

Mr. Kuehnel, you are not only a good friend of Pope Benedict XVI, but you are often described as his 'courier.' What is that all about?
It's a long tradition which started in 1982 after Cardinal Ratzinger was called to Rome. I was standing with him at the door to the Cathedral, and I told him he must not be sad to leave his beloved Bavaria. I promised him that I would bring to Rome all the Bavarian things he wished for. I have done that and continue to do so even now.

And what are these Bavarian things?
The first thing that I tranported to Rome was an Easter candle, along with fruit juices from Adelholzen and mineral water. Then around Christmastime, I brought him Advent wreaths which are not available in Italy. Now there are 40 pieces. Shortly before Christmas, I will be bringing a load of Christmas trees to the Vatican - about six or seven which are carried on a ski transport truck. The Hauck and Aufhaueser bank sponsors my trips and places everything that I need at my disposal.

What Christmas delicacies are especially pleasing to the Pope?Mostly, he loves the home-cooked dishes coming from parish housekeepers and from the nunneries. But also the chocolates from a manufacturer in Aachen.

You have made this trip over the Brenner Pass to Italy so often. Has anything interesting ever happened?
In the 1980s, when deforestation was quite critical, I needed a permit for each Christmas tree. Once, I found myself on the Austrian border with my load of seven Christmas trees but I only had six permits. The customs officer insisted I could only take out six trees. As I was trying to argue, he came and broke off the top of one tree. I was so angry that I called him an Austrian cow. That earned me a charge of offending an officer, but that was dropped after some friends intervened in my behalf.

Previously, you also drove the Cardinal whenever he came back to Bavaria...
Yes, I would meet him at the airport and drive him to Pentling or to his brother's house in Regensburg. In the past, I often had the entire family travelling in my car - the Cardinal, his brother and his sister. We also shared beautiful vacations together in Mallensdorf, Brixen (Bressanone), Linz, Klagenfurt and Bad Hofgastein, usually with the whole family.

Did you have fun on these trips? Does the Pope have a sense of humor?
Of course. He especially likes Karl Valentin [a German comedian?] He would often quote him and get a good laugh out of it. On these trips, we laugh, we chat, we pray, and also know when to keep silent.

When I would pick him up from the airport, I would know as soon as he got into the car whether he was preoccupied with something, or if he was working on a homily. He does everything in his head, he has a mind like a computer.

He made his last important homily as Cardinal in Germany on Assumption Day of 2004. As I was driving him to Church, he said to me: "Now I have to think about what I will say." Then he went on to address about a thousand persons, and even TV was there. After he gave the homily, many journalists approached me to ask for the text. They couldn't believe that he had spoken off the cuff!

Surely, a lot has changed since April of last year? How often do you travel to Rome these days?
Four times a year, I travel by car to deliver things. But I also fly to Rome every four weeks to visit the Pope. We did not want to break this custom even after he became Pope.

How does it go when you visit the Pope?
I have 'safe conduct' when I come to Rome. The Swiss Guard recognize my car and my registration number which has been the same for the past 20 years. When I make a personal visit to the Vatican, then I get a call from the Pope's secretary who tells me what time to come, say 6 p.m. Then I take the elevator up to the third floor of the Apostolic Palace directly to the Papal apartments.

He has a wonderful view from his roof garden - all of Rome is spread out before him. As a layman, I feel that this privilege of access to him is a thank-you for the 23 years of our friendship. When I am with him, he always says, "Mr. Kuehnel, first let us gossip a bit." And so we chat on until a sister calls us to dinner. Usually, I spend about two and a half hours with him.

Has he changed much since he became Pope?
Of course, it has become much more difficult to meet him. Before that, I could simply come pick him up and we would drive to the city to a good restaurant. But we can't do that anymore. As Pope, he cannot move about freely, if only for security reasons.

After all these years, how did you feel when your friend suddenly became Pope?
Before the Conclave, we had spoken to each other by telephone, and he said, "Mr. Kuehnel, we will continue to be friends," as if he had a premonition. When he was elected, I was not in Rome but sitting in my office in Munich with a broken foot. I was very moved when I watched the ceremony on TV - out of joy, on the one hand, and on the other, out of a sudden nostalgia. I knew that effectively an era had passed, that Joseph Ratzinger was no longer a private man but the Pope.

How did your first meeting go after that?
The first time we had lunch together in Rome, neither of us had yet fully grasped the idea. He was exactly as he had always been, but everything was different. Even now, I have not become quite used to it. Often I find myself saying, "But Herr Kardinal, what do you mean by that?" and I am horrified by my lapse. But he only smiles and says, "Oh Herr Kuehnel, don't worry, that happens often!"

Has he changed very much since then?
What strikes me very much is that many of his former enemies have suddenly become friendly and beguiling, where earlier they criticized him for being conservative. Those who know him privately always knew that he was never a hard man. He is a good-humored and very simple man. In the past, when we ate out and people recognized him, he always reacted very kindly.

Surely many would now want to take advantage of their previous acquaintance with the Pope...
I am one of the few who have been privileged to be near him, but I have never capitalized on that. When I think, for instance, of how much his old Volkswagen raised at auction - certainly it was registered to him,but he probably sat in it once - he never took out a driver's license. Whereas he has traveled thousands of kilometers in my car. A car dealer has since taken over the car from my bank without knowing about its history and sold it to someone in Byelorussia.

Are you happy that he is visiting Bavaria? Will you meet him there?
He will have a very tight official schedule, in which I have no part. I would much rather see him in private. Perhaps in Regensburg when he inaugurates the new organ for the Old Chapel and then will go to his brother's house afterwards. Perhaps we will lunch together.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 28/08/2006 15.51]

00Monday, August 28, 2006 3:30 PM
The Polish media informs (after Il Giornale) about a very popular in Turkey new crime novel about an assasination attempt on Pope Benedict during his visit in Stambul. [SM=x40796]
(I hope somebody gets more information on this)

That is rather disturbing news in the light of the Pope's trip to Turkey in November and a number of recent attacks on Catholic priests (remember Fr. Santoro?). I know it's just a fiction, but let us pray for safety of the Pope in Turkey and whereever he chooses to travel.

[Modificato da .Sue. 28/08/2006 15.34]

00Monday, August 28, 2006 11:41 PM
In addition to Theresa's article about friendship with Thaddäus Kühnel

Thaddäus Kühnel

00Tuesday, August 29, 2006 9:23 PM
Eugenia in the main forum has posted an Auditel (Italy's equivalent of the Nielsen ratings) report on last Sunday's TV viewership in Italy.

To no one's surprise, the most watched program was a Formula-1 race final with some 9 million viewers.

"But the surprise of the day," according to the report, "was the Pope's Angelus from Castel Gandolfo at which he spoke about the environment."

Of course, the main topic of the Angelus message last Sunday was the Christian examples given by St. Augustine and his mother St. Monica. But the Pope spoke of the need to protect the environment in taking note that Italy was celebrating a Day for the Conservation of Nature for the first time this coming September 1.

Here is how the report put it:
"Papa Ratzinger's Angelus message - an expression of alarm and a call to preserve nature threatened by environmental degradation - was followed by 5,412,000 viewers. It was the most-watched program in the 12:00-2:00 time period..." [And who thinks the viewers watched because he spoke of the environment, although that is the implication of the report!]

RAI-1, for all the disinterest, if not downright animosity, which its most visible anchors and talk-show hosts have apparently shown so far towards Benedict XVI, cannot possibly complain of the numbers he draws to them by his own events, not only on big holidays like Christmas and Easter, but even on ordinary days like last Sunday, or unlikely 'hits' in prime time like the Via Crucis last April.

The Pope most everyone said would never be a match for his predecessor as a crowd drawer continues to prove his detractors very wrong indeed!

Incidentally, among the programs whose viewers were far outnumbered by the Angelus was a Robert Redford-Brad Pitt movie which drew only half the audience of the Angelus.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 29/08/2006 23.28]

00Tuesday, August 29, 2006 11:20 PM
Eugenia also posted the following story from Il Gazzattino today. Herewith a translation:

Benedict XVI has found in Angela Merkel a powerful ally in the battle to defend the Christian roots of Europe.

The Girl from the East [Germany], daughter of a Protestant minister, and today the Federal Chancellor of Germany, had a private audience with the Pope in Castel Gandolfo yesterday. It was called a private audience but it folowed state protocol, including a salute from a guard of honour in the courtyard.

For 40 minutes, the Pope and Madame Merkel had what she called an "intensive conversation" when she spoke to journalists after emerging from the audience with a smile, into a car that took her to Ciampino airport and a Luftwaffe aircraft that took her back to Berlin.

The leader of Germany, which takes its turn to preside over the European Union next, year, did not hesitate to show the Pope her conviction that Christianity is a precious element that cannot be discarded in the construction of a new Europe.

"We spoke of religious freedom and the role of Europe inthe world today, and I underscored that I believe a European identity defined by a clause in the Constitution will help us, and that this identity should be linked to Christianity and to God. Because Christianity has shaped the Continent in a decisive way," Merkel told journalists.

As for the role of her party, the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) in Germany - which is increasingly secularized and also has a strong Muslim immigrant population - the Chancellor said her party "will continue to have optimal relations with the Pope."

Their conversation covered burning issues of the day like the war in Lebanon and the course towards nuclear weapons taken by the mullahs of Tehran, even as the UN ultimatum to Iran is about to expire.

Earlier in the week, Merkel said in Berlin that she was not satisfied with Iran's response to the solution offered by the "5+1" group.

"We discussed international politics, especially the situation in the Middle Est and what the international community is doing about Iran," Merkel said.

In the past months, the Vatican has, on several accasions, appealed to international diplomacy to use all available means in order to resolve the Iranian crisis and avoid terrible scenarios of war.

In the Pope's Urbi et Orbi message on Easter, he expressed the hope for "negotiations in good faith" to achieve a peaceful coexistence among religions and cultures.

Merkel appeared at ease, dressed for the Papal audience in a black pant suit with only a silver chain as jewelry. She said she conveyed to the Pope the anticipation and joy with which the German people are waiting to greet him when he comes to Bavaria in two weeks.

"I am very happy to be here as Chancellor and as representative of the German people," she said. "This audience was a great pleasure. Obviously, I let him know we Germans are all very happy to be welcoming him back to Bavaria."

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 29/08/2006 23.24]

00Wednesday, August 30, 2006 4:32 AM
In the main forum, Francesca-Pisa has posted an article from korazym. org about a new book selling well in Turkey because it deals with the unthinkable. The reactions of the leading Catholic prelates in Turkey appear to be more disturbing rather than reassuring! Here is a translation -

A disturbing book,
but 'security is under control'

By Matteo Spicuglia - 29/08/2006

Ten days ago, a novel describing the assassination of Benedict XVI during his visit to Turkey came out in that country. A disturbing event, in a country to which the welcome for the Pope will certainly not be warm!

Although some Catholic bishops in Turkey are damping down the fires [see below], a few days ago, the Apostolic vicar in Istanbul, Mons. Louis Pelatre, spoke about it to the French agency I.media. Acknowledging his bitterness at the lack of respect for religious freedom in Turkey, the bishop cited the book as an urgent example.

"This week, a novel came out that describes the assassination of the Pope while he is visiting Istanbul. This is most distressing!"

At first glance, the novel is a curious bit of news which however clearly shows the thinking in some sectors of Turkish society: those that make up the anti-Western front which in the past few months has made anti-Christian propaganda an obligation.

The book is entitled Papa’ya suikast(Assassinating the Pope], with the subtitle "Who will kill the Pope in Istanbul?". It is written by Yücel Kaya, a crime-story writer, who is gaining some success with the book which has been climbing the bestseller list on the Internet.

Printed in a large paperback format (5" x 7.5"), it tells in 336 pages a story of intrigues involving the Opus Dei, P2 [I have to find out from the Italian members what P2 stands for] and secret services.

The plot revolves around journalist Oriano Ciroella, a member of the Opus Dei who becomes the actual assassin. The mastermind is a pro-P2 Opus Dei cardinal who wants to replace Benedict XVI.

A similar scenario is also being hatched by the Turkish secret service, representing the nationalist and Islamic right wing in Turkey, which opposes the union of the Catholic and Orthodox churches in Turkey.

Up to this point, the theme of the novel appears to be just one more of the many spy stories patterned after The Da Vinci Code which, under normal circumstances, would be a problem fairly easy to deal with.

The disquieting aspect is in the real and circumstantial references to recent events of an anti-religious context, such as the murder of Don Andrea Santoro in Trebizond and the recent stabbing of Father Pierre Brunissen in Samsun. Both episodes have been explained away as isolated acts by fanatics, when actually, the climate of intimidation against Christians is very real.

Asked about the matter, authoritative Catholic figures in Turkey such as the Apostolic Vicar in Anatolia, Mons. Luigi Paedovese, and the papal nuncio in Turkey, Mons. Antonio Lucibello, sought to dampen down fears, saying that all security arrangements for the Pope's visit are under control and that "there is an absolutely normal climate in Turkey."

This, even if in recent months, they sounded different.

Mons. Padovese told Giuseppe Caffulli of the St. Anthony Messenger:

"Turkey is a state that claims to be laic, but the past few decades have seen the growth, out of political necessity, of a very active Islamic front which has determined the reality in a state that calls itself laic but is at the same time confessional [religious]. Not on paper, but in fact. It is a confessional state that is Sunni like the majority of Turkish Muslims. Evidently to the detriment of minorities, not only Christian but also Muslim - I am thinking of the 'aleviti' [a branch of Shiite Islam who make up 20% of the population who are considered by the Sunnis to be Islamic heretics] who also suffer this state of discrimination.

"I think that Turkey still has a long way to go with regard to freedom of religion. One of the first steps must be a recognition of the juridical status of various religious confessions. For instance, we do not exist as the Catholic Church in Turkey. the authorities know I am the head of the Catholic community in Turkey, but in fact, I am treated like an ordinary citizen. But I am strongly convinced that recognizing freedom of religion and the juridical status of the various confessions do not at all interfere with the principle of laicity of the Turkish state."

Proof of this is the testimony of a priest who was sent anonymously to Turkey by AsiaNews: "Some national newspapers continue to speak of missionaries and their proselytizing through giving out money and other lures, but without ever identifying those who are alleged to be doing this. That is how they continue to insinuate into the public mind that the Catholic Church is 'converting' the Turks and therefore represents a threat.

"Turkey has a population of 70 million, among whom only 150,000 are Christian. One has to ask, how can a country that is laic and democratic, claim to fear a few conversions, while at the same time their media continue to report conversions of Christians to Islam, not a few, because of foreigners marrying locals?"

Another slice of life described by AsiaNews:

"Last summer, I was in Riza, a little city not far from Trabzon, to prepare an article about the Black Sea. I was struck by a title in a local newspaper, 'On the way to the sea, a priest has been sighted.' It was reported as if a UFO had been seen on the Black Sea!

"The local journalist continued his report: 'The persons with whom I spoke showed me the place where they sighted the priest, saying, 'As he escaped towards the mountains, some young peoole ran after him to catch him.'

"For his part, the religious leader of Rize declared, 'The number of Christians visiting our city is on the rise and they have bad intentions. We must maintain our national unity against them."

"And the chief of the party called the Grey Wolves said: 'The priests who come here want to reconstitute the Greek-Orthodox state of the past. Among them are spies who work for the Western powers, they are destroying our peace. We men of the Black Sea are conservative.'

"The local journalist asked, 'Are these declarations not signs of the danger that is threatening us? This must end in killing the priest.'"

The AsiaNews report concludes: "If secular Turkey asks the world for respect from all religions, it must first protect the members of all religions who find themselves within Turkish teritory."

This "thriller" about the Pope must be considered in this context.

But the Apostolic Nuncio in Turkey tells Il Giornale: "We must treat this for what it is: a literary fiction."

Nevertheless it casts a shadow over the forthcoming trip of the Holy Father to Turkey.

Even if the security of the Pope is being guaranteed beyond doubt (according to Mons. Padovese, "assassination attempts or aggressions against the Pope can be absolutely ruled out"), the first victim of this novel is the cultural dimension of the encounter.

I did not use to share the misgivings expressed by many of our Italian sisters about the trip to Turkey. Now I am very concerned indeed.

It has been argued elsewhere that Turkey cannot afford to have anything happen to the Pope while he is their guest because it could militate against their acceptance into the European Union.

Even if Turkish authorities have that attitude, what control do they have over individual fanatics of whom there must be thousands willing to 'find glory' by attempting to kill the Pope?

And think of Agca, who was not even acting as a Muslim fanatic but was simply used by the Soviet bloc to try to eliminate John Paul II!

Benedict XVI is committed to this visit with Patriarch Athenagoras in Istanbul and to a visit of solidarity with the Catholics in Turkey. We can only all pray that God will keep him safe and sound in this ecumenical and apostolic mission to a country that is so inhospitable to Christians!

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 30/08/2006 15.59]

00Wednesday, August 30, 2006 2:40 PM
EAI (Ekumeniczna Agencja Informacyjna, The Ecumenical News Agency) informs today that (in translation):

A group of 12 young Catholics from Germany, France, Italy, Mexico and the USA decided to start on the first anniversary of WYD in Köln an international platform for young people identifying themselves with the message of Pope Benedict XVI.
The inauguration took place 26/08 in the Archdiocese of Köln.

The generation of Benedict has a world-wide range. Its goal is to represent in the media millions of young people who want to propagate positive attitude towards Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church at the WYDs and in their social life.

They underline that they want only solid authorities and such is current Pope. They admit that JP2 is also a model for them because he impressed them by his faith combined with a rich philosophical thought.
They underscore that referring to Benedict’s predecessor is not only their obligation, but an element of their identity.

One of the most important parts of this project is a book written by young people at age of 20-24. There are no theology students among the authors. This book has 12 chapters and comments the challenges and questions of the modern youth. Questions like: Do I need the Church? Is God indifferent to my personal suffering? How can I find love for life? are among the themes. Pope Benedict become acquainted with the book already and wrote a foreword. The epilogue was added by Cardinal Joachim Meisner, the Archbishop of Köln. The book bearing title: “Generation Benedict. With the Pope on a wave“ will come out before the end of this year.

The young people bound themselves to support the Pope by their prayers, meetings organization and practical help. The premiere of the platform will take place during the upcoming pilgrimage of the Pope to Bavaria.


[Modificato da .Sue. 30/08/2006 14.41]

00Thursday, August 31, 2006 2:38 AM
Thanks, Sue, for the lead and link to generation-benedikt.de! I love their banner-picture on the site:

Their home page cites these lines from the Pope's Foreword to their book, "Generation Benedikt. Mit dem Papst auf Einer Welle" {The Benedict Generation: With the Pope Atop a Wave]:

"I am happy that in this book, the dialog is lively and very realistic, that the questions were not written by those who give the answers but by young people who have put into the words their own personal search for answers and thereby are also spokesmen for their generation."

Although the site is fairly simple at the moment, it promises to be a good place to touch base with the younger generation, and their site may go on to become as good a source for Papal and church news and analyses as the Italian site korazym.org.

The few thumbnail pictures they've used so far from WYD-Cologne to liven up their pages are excellent.

As soon as I can, I will post a translation of their statements of intent, titled "Who we are", "What we are not" and "What we hope to achieve."

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 31/08/2006 2.39]

00Thursday, August 31, 2006 2:48 AM
Dialog imagined by Paparatizfan:

Paparatzifan: But Papino, don’t use your capelet!

PRF: Here’s a tissue hankie…
B16: Thanks, dear sister...

B16: But it's really too hot here! Have they turned down the airconditioning to cut costs?

B16: Do you have another tissue, Paparatzifan?
PRF: No, dear Papino, that was the last one!

B16: Then I have no choice…

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 31/08/2006 2.54]

00Thursday, August 31, 2006 8:23 PM

Pope abolishes Christmas pop concert

From correrspondents in Vatican City
The Australian
August 31, 2006

THE Pope has abolished the Vatican's traditional Christmas concert because he does not share his predecessor's taste for pop music and wants to avoid scandal, the Italian media reported today.

“Pope Ratzinger prefers Mozart and Bach to 'pop' music and thus, after 12 years, the traditional Vatican Christmas concert comes to an end,” the daily La Stampa said.

The annual charity concert, organised since its inception by the Prime Time Promotion events agency, will be transferred to Monaco beginning this year, the paper reported.

Starting in 1993, Italian and international pop stars gathered annually in the Paul VI auditorium for the Yuletide bash. And every year Pope John Paul II either granted an audience with the performers or prepared a videotaped message.

To the chagrin of many performers, the 2005 edition was marked by the absence of Benedict XVI, elected pope eight months earlier.

“It is impossible not to notice a change under the new pontiff,” the ANSA news agency said.

“Benedict XVI is a very sober pope and is not inclined toward variety shows. He is more concerned about leading the faith of Catholics to its spiritual essence.”

La Stampa suggested that Benedict XVI's reluctance to continue the Christmas concert tradition stems not only from the German-born pope's preference for classical music, but also his desire to avoid the small scandals that have plagued the event in recent years.

Last year, Brazilian singer Daniela Mercury's show was cancelled by the Vatican because she had taken part in a public service campaign in Brazil promoting the use of condoms.

And in 2003, the American singer Lauryn Hill, ex-leader of the Fugees, suggested during her concert before 7500 spectators – including many Catholic prelates – that the Church ask forgiveness for crimes committed in the United States by pedophile priests.

Her statement was cut from the televised version of the concert.

[Modificato da benefan 31/08/2006 20.31]

00Thursday, August 31, 2006 9:15 PM
Dear Benefan...I am glad you posted a comparably 'tame' English version of the news item on the cancelled Christmas pop concert. Tne reporting in the Italian press has been, as indicated in the above item itself, rather critical and quotes some pop stars saying the most unflattering things about the Pope.

As you can imagine, there's quite a flap about it among the Italian sisters, to whom I said it was not worth going into a snit over people who do not know any better, and least of all, going into such long and detailed 'defense' of the Pope on this forum where his musical tastes (or other issues, for that matter) are concerned, because you don't preach to the choir, and that they should bring these lengthy and passionate 'arguments' to the newspapers and magazines who are carrying the critical and/or derogatory items.

Obviously, I had no interest in translating (and thereby recycling) the ignorant comments by journalists and pop artists alike, but believe me, the Australian news story is far more sober than the to-do in some of the Italian articles I've read.

However, it must be pointed out that the Vatican media machine has once again botched what should have been a fairly simple matter of issuing a simple announcement by the appropriate office, that the Vatican was cancelling the Christmas pop concerts and why - not having it come out through some unsourced leak, accompanied by all sorts of misguided speculation.

[I say 'botched once again' because you all remember the flap last Christmas about the pop stars who vented against the Pope because he did not receive them in private audience 'as John Paul used to do' nor did he have a video message for the concert. They could have minimized the unpleasantness then by telling the organizers and the participants beforehand, "Look, we are under new management, so to speak. Things will not be the same this year, so please do not be surprised if..... "]

None of the stories so far has given us a complete picture of what these Christmas concerts were exactly - I get the impression some enterprising agency cooked up the idea, got someone in the Vatican to OK it and even to get JP-II's imprimatur, but who benefits from them? It is public fact that the tickets cost a lot, and that the performers are not paid. Which charities have been benefited and how much?

Even if the organizers have plowed back part of the proceeds to charity, the fact remains that they were using the Vatican and especially John Paul-II to get some cachet, even if the Pope himself never attended the concerts, contrary to what is implied by some of the Italian news items and the pop stars they quoted.

And for the pop stars invited, it made a great addition to their CV, and maybe most of them did feel sincerely that "it was an honor in itself to be asked".

Also, it is ridiculous to call something started 9 years ago 'traditional', especially in the context of the Church!

I think the one argument mentioned today for why these pop concerts at the Vatican are not a good idea is that you can't risk having someone using such occasions as a platform for espousing political views that are contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church.
00Saturday, September 2, 2006 3:59 AM

Pentling residents excited about return of Pope Benedict

By Tess Crebbin
Catholic News Service

PENTLING, Germany (CNS) -- Residents of the village of Pentling, where Pope Benedict XVI still owns a home, are excited that their favorite son is returning Sept. 13, and some will even be at the airport when he arrives in Munich Sept. 9.

"We are going to send a delegation of 20 people to welcome the pope at the airport when he first touches down in Bavaria," Pentling Mayor Albert Rummel told Catholic News Service Aug. 30. "To greet him, we will bring a banner that has been designed by the local kindergarten, which he himself has christened."

In mid-August, Rummel was in Italy to meet with the pope and said the German pontiff is still very attached to his Bavarian roots.

"He asked me about people he knew, how everyone is, and after his house," Rummel said. "He also stated how very much he was looking forward to visiting us in Pentling and seemed very much at ease speaking Bavarian dialect with us."

Rummel said he thought the pope would try to find a chance to greet his Pentling friends when he visits the village, just outside Regensburg.

"Knowing the pope as I do, if there is any chance for him to speak to 'his' people, then he certainly will," the mayor said. "But we will leave him in peace and not force an encounter, because to us he is one of our inhabitants, and we want to grant him the right to his privacy as much as possible. He is just one of us, coming home again."

Margarete Richardi, one of the pope's closest friends, is also excited about his visit.

"We are also going out to the airport to welcome him," she told CNS. "My husband will be there, and my two daughters, Anne and Bettina, with their husbands. He married them both, and also baptized two of Anne's four children," who will also be there.

In April, the Richardis visited Pope Benedict in Castel Gandolfo, outside Rome. Richardi said their friend was "very happy to see us."

"He was just like we have always known him, very nice and kind, although there is now a very special air around him," she said Aug. 30. "This he always had, but it has intensified. As always, he was very thoughtful."

She said accompanying them, at the pope's invitation, were some family friends who have a disabled son named Benedict. The child's condition prevented him from traveling to Italy.

"The pope had laughed heartily when (the parents) told him that Benedict, whenever he hears his name mentioned in Mass, gets very excited because he thinks it is for him personally, not for the pope of the same name," Richardi said.

Whether the Richardis will get a chance for some private time with the pope during this visit remains uncertain. Richardi said they invited Pope Benedict for dinner Sept. 13, "but, for now, we still do not know whether security regulations will allow for this to happen. It would be very nice but, if not, then we will definitely see him again in October this year, when we will be in Rome for a week."

Gerhard Klier, the former mayor of Pentling, has known the pope for 36 years. He visited Pope Benedict in Rome last September and said he looks forward to meeting him again.

"When I visited him last September, he told others in perfect Bavarian dialect, 'This is Gerhard Klier who, for the past 20-plus years, had been standing back-to-back with me on All Saints Day whenever we visited the graves of our families,'" Klier told CNS.

The pope's family grave, where his parents and sister are buried, is directly opposite that of the Kliers at the Ziegetzdorf Cemetery, just outside Pentling. The pope is scheduled to visit the cemetery Sept. 13.

Klier said he thinks Pope Benedict will be delighted to hear the Bavarian dialect again.

"That is what struck me about our meeting," he said, "how happy the pope was to converse in Bavarian again. He loves the dialect of his home state."

Like the pope's other friends in his former hometown, Klier said he hopes that there will be an opportunity for a personal meeting.

"But now that he is pope, this may not be possible. If not, never mind, I am just ever so happy for him that he gets to see Pentling again, because I know how much he misses it, and all of us as well," he said.
00Saturday, September 2, 2006 4:03 AM

U.S. nun to be among Germans greeting pope in Pentling

PENTLING, Germany (CNS) -- A U.S. nun will be among Germans greeting Pope Benedict XVI when he returns to his home in Pentling. Carmelite Sister Emmanuel Hofbauer of St. Joseph Carmelite Monastery in Shoreline, Wash., north of Seattle, has a special bond with Pope Benedict that spans decades and began when she was praying for him. Now Rupert Hofbauer, Pope Benedict's neighbor who cares for the house the pontiff still owns in Pentling, has invited Sister Emmanuel -- no relation -- to stay with him for two weeks, including Sept. 9-14, when Pope Benedict returns to his native Bavaria. "When he visits his house in Pentling," said Hofbauer, "everything will be shut off. Only neighbors will be allowed in the area, with a special permit. Since she will be staying with us, I have obtained such a permit for Sister Emmanuel also. I understand that Pope Benedict XVI will be greeting all the neighbors in person, and Sister Emmanuel will also be present to welcome him." Sister Emmanuel told Catholic News Service Sept. 1 that she carries many items that have been entrusted to her to give to the pope, including a letter from Archbishop Alex J. Brunett of Seattle.
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