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A journalist’s “inside look” at the papacy of Benedict XVI

Paul Badde’s new book tells the story of a dramatic papacy as it unfolded.

Pope Benedict XVI greets the crowd as he concludes his final public appearance from the balcony of the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, on the day of his resignation, in this Feb. 28, 2013 (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

A new book by Paul Badde, entitled Benedict Up Close: The Inside Story of Eight Dramatic Years (EWTN Publishing, 2017), takes a novel approach to a retrospective on the pontificate of Benedict XVI. Badde, a German journalist who was a Rome correspondent for Die Welt for many years, has collected articles and essays on the papacy of Benedict XVI written during that papacy. Rather than an attempt to assess in hindsight, this is a look back on what was said at the time.

This provides an interesting insight into the Benedict XVI years. How did journalists react when Joseph Ratzinger emerged onto the central loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica as the new pope? What was being said about the now-infamous “Regensburg address” at the time it was given? The many controversies that swirled around the pope may seem static in our memories—but how were they perceived as they were actually happening?

In the style typical of European journalists, these pieces often present behind-the-scenes information without attribution. Italian Vaticanistas are well-known for this, and Badde is in this same camp.

The tone of many of the essays in the book is intimate; one can tell that Badde had his own personal relationship with Joseph Ratzinger. Badde is writing of a man he truly loves, a shepherd he considers his own.

In Badde’s piece from February 11, 2013, the day that Benedict announced to the assembled cardinals and the world that he intended to renounce the Petrine office, Badde’s love for Benedict and his shock at the announcement are palpable.

“[He] is not resigning,” Badde wrote, “but rather freely going ahead into the inner sanctum of the Church’s prayer. It is incomprehensible and unprecedented, but I don’t care. It is just sad. It sticks like a lump in the throat. […] It is enough to make you weep.”

These are the words of a man crushed by the end of a pontificate with which he was intimately tied.

Benedict Up Close is an interesting read for those who are ready to take another look at the papacy of Benedict XVI as it unfolded. Time will tell what long-term effects Joseph Ratzinger will have had on the Church. But if the reader is seeking to experience his pontificate all over again, this is the book.

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About Paul Senz 138 Articles
Paul Senz has an undergraduate degree from the University of Portland in music and theology and earned a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry from the same university. He has contributed to Catholic World Report, Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly, The Priest Magazine, National Catholic Register, Catholic Herald, and other outlets. Paul lives in Elk City, OK, with his wife and their four children.


  1. “What was being said about the now-infamous “Regensburg address” at the time it was given?”
    What was truly infamous was the reactions of Muslims and some “liberals” to it.
    Various fatwa’s demanded that the Pope convert to Islam to “stave off the sword”. One even made use of the truly infamous phrase “aslim taslam”.

    Why should the Pope be criticised for QUOTING another person?
    The answer is that any criticism of islam is automatically deemed “Islamophobic” – exactly as Sharia law requires.
    Neither the Pope nor the Church should have apologised for the lecture. We should not be shuttng down free-speech or self-censoring to appease the bloodiest religion on the planet.
    That it did otherwise showed a lack of moral fibre.

    • But in actual fact, Benedict did not apologize”

      Pope Benedict XVI “sincerely regrets” that Muslims have been offended by his words about Islam and violence in a speech, the Vatican said Saturday in a statement which stopped short of the apology demanded by many Muslim leaders in the Middle East and Asia.

      And Muslims did not take it as an apology:

      Mohammed Bishr, a senior Muslim Brotherhood member in Egypt, contended that the Vatican’s statement “was not an apology” but a “pretext that the pope was quoting somebody else as saying so and so.”

      “We need the pope to admit the big mistake he has committed and then agree on apologizing, because we will not accept others to apologize on his behalf.”

        • Lol….wait for it….wait for it.
          Benedict was being indirect and passive aggressive. It was not brave to use the ventriloquist trick…”the puppet said it…not I the one innocently holding the puppet.”
          That was not a rottweiler move. What we need is a Pope who publically announces in the media that Islamic terrorists are moving toward an eternity of pain not towards females who look like Kareuche Tran…”houri with large dark eyes”. It ain’t happenin’.
          This Pope said such to mafia people…I think. i don’t think he’ll do so to Islamists.

  2. He should not have “renounced the Petrine Office.” It was not only “incomprehensible and unprecedented … [and] just sad”, it also landed the Church into the beginnings of schism that we find ourselves today! If Pope Emeritus Benedict had not fled the responsibilities of his divinely given Office he might not be a happy camper, but the Church would not have been delivered over to the “torturers,” er, I meant to write, the present Pontifex Maximus…

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