Pontifical Sass: More Little Surprises from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Pontifical Sass: More Little Surprises from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI December 16, 2016
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

This is a follow up from a post last week, showing some of the little highlights from what appears to be the last interview between the German journalist Peter Seewald and Pope Emertis Benedict XVI in Last Testament. The first post, which focused on the first half of the book, identified a selection of surprising little observations from the former Pontiff on a number of issues.

One other pleasant aspect of reading this book, especially when one approaches the second half, has been the little displays of wit and sometimes attitude – what can be summed up as “Pontifical Sass” – both by him and his predecessor. Below are a few selections

1) On Johann Baptist Metz

Seewald: I think your one-time colleague Johann Baptist Metz told me.

Benedict: Ah, interesting. You spoke with Metz (Benedict had never spoken with him)

Seewald: Yes

Benedict: And was it good?

2) On the sass of St. John Paul II

Seewald: And for the third time (ie the third time that then Joseph Ratzinger asked to be dismissed from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith after suffering a stroke in 1991)?

Benedict: Before I could ask him about it he already said: ‘You don’t need to tell me, you don’t need to write to me, saying that you want to be set free; it will not be heard. As long as I am here, you must stay’.

3) Concerning his appearance due to his workload

Seewald: The first times we saw you, you often had rings under your eyes

Benedict: So?

4) On taking action on the Liturgy

Seewald: As Prefect you complained about an impoverishment and a misuse of the liturgy…If so, why has so little happened in this area? You certainly had all the authority to do something

Benedict: Institutionally and juridically one cannot do much at all. What is important is that an inward vision emerges, and that people learn what liturgy is from seeing inwardly – learn what it really means. That is why I have just written books. Unfortunately, there are still, in today’s confined spaces, certain groups of supposed experts who absolutize their theories and do not see what the essential thing is…But one cannot just command that.

Seewald: One thinks a Pope has the authority; he can put his foot down

Benedict: No.

Seewald: It won’t work?

Benedict: It won’t work, no!

 


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