Bruised Reeds

In his Introduction, journalist Peter Seewald, who talked to the Holy Father over several hours at Castel Gandolfo for this book, points out that it is the first time a pope has engaged in such a personal interview.  Although Seewald’s questions appear at times a little convoluted and repetitive, he can rightly take credit for the scoop, for in this long “conversation” Benedict XVI reveals himself in a way not possible for the public smiling figure we have seen during papal visits or on our television screens.

What is revealed is a man at once engagingly straightforward and wholly bound up with bearing witness to the “truth, the love and the joy that comes from conversion to Christ,” as George Weigel writes in his Foreword.  Prayer, the Holy Father admits, is “begging, for the most part.”  It is also trusting and humble: His immediate thought on his election to the papacy was “I can’t do it.  If you wanted me, then you must also help me.”  Asked by his interviewer about comparisons between his pontificate and that of John Paul II, his great predecessor, Benedict simply replies, “I am who I am.”  Not surprisingly, given both the burden of his office and his radical trust in God, his private motto as Pope is “Do not be anxious about tomorrow.”

There is also humor.  Asked by Seewald if, like Churchill, he would say, “No sports!”...

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