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The Dispatch: More from CWR
Pope Benedict XVI receives the book "Light of the World" from its writer, German journalist Peter Seewald, during a meeting at the Vatican in November 2010. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Remarks from German journalist Peter Seewald about the state of Pope Benedict’s health have received wide circulation since the publication of an article yesterday in German and Italian magazines. Seewald, who conducted two book-length interviews with the Holy Father and is working on his official biography, met with Benedict last summer and noted that “[his] hearing had gone down, he was blind in the left eye, his body had grown thinner,” adding, “I had never seen him so exhausted.”

Those details about the Holy Father’s physical condition understandably have received a good deal of attention; just as interesting, but less widely noted, is what Seewald has to say about Benedict and last year’s “Vatileaks” scandal, which was thought by many to have been a major factor in the Pope’s decision to resign. From Catholic News Service:

[Seewald] denied that the 2012 "VatiLeaks" scandal had been a reason for the pontiff's resignation and said Pope Benedict had merely voiced incomprehension at the decision of his former butler, Paolo Gabriele, to leak information.

"It's true the butler's betrayal was a painful experience," Seewald told the Munich-based Focus, which was launched in 1993 and is Germany's third-largest weekly.

"But it certainly didn't influence his decision in any important way. In our 90-minute talk at Castel Gandolfo last August, the pope said he felt neither despair nor despondency. ... It was very important for the pope that the VatiLeaks exposure would ensure an independent judiciary in the Vatican—that there wouldn't be a situation in which the monarch said he was taking the matter in his own hands."


About the Author
Catherine Harmon

Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.
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