By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
tPope Benedict XVI is famously his own best spin doctor. In the old days, the Vatican would dispatch senior officials to try to calm the waters after the pope said or did something controversial; more recently it’s worked the other way, with Benedict himself getting the Vatican back “on message” after one of his aides, or somebody else in officialdom, has put his foot in his mouth.
tBenedict’s chops as a teacher and communicator are once again in evidence this week, with release of the new book Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times, an interview with German journalist Peter Seewald (published in English by Ignatius Press). Excerpts from the book were published yesterday in L’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper.
Prior to his election to the papacy, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger sat down for two such extended interviews with Seewald. This summer, he gave Seewald an hour a day over the course of a week, and the results of those sessions run to some 180 pages covering virtually every major episode and controversy from the first five years of Benedict’s papacy.