Friends and foes alike of Pope Benedict XVI concur that he's got an image problem. Where they place the blame for it may differ, but the fact itself seems clear: From a PR point of view, this is a pontificate defined by its train wrecks.
Cataloguing those train wrecks is the burden of a valuable new book by two of the best Italian vaticanisti going: Andrea Tornielli of Il Giornale and Paolo Rodari of Il Foglio, both of whom also operate widely read blogs -- "Palazzo apostolico" for Rodari and "Sacri palazzi" for Tornielli. Their work is titled Attacco a Ratzinger: Accuse e scandali, profezie e complotti ("Attack on Ratzinger: Accusations and Scandals, Prophecies and Plots"), published in Italian by Piemme.
The book came out in Italy on Tuesday, and one hopes an enterprising publisher in the States will bring out an English translation quickly. (Let me volunteer here and now: I'd be happy to put together a preface introducing the book, and its authors, to an English-speaking audience.)
"Many years ago, when this cub reporter was covering religion, the first edition of a brave, feisty, independent publication called National Catholic Reporter showed up at my desk. From that day forward, NCR became my template for excellent reporting. It has become one of my trusted spiritual guides, as well."
- NCR contributor
While the sexual abuse crisis has occasioned the most serious criticism of Benedict XVI, it's hardly an isolated case. Tornielli and Rodari treat a long list of other controversies and PR debacles too.
Read the full report here: 'Attack on Ratzinger': Italian book assesses Benedict's papacy