By Jordan Grantham, Catholic Outlook
“So when you stand before the Almighty, what will you say to him?
I will plead with him to show leniency towards my wretchedness.”
– Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Last Testament
Unprecedented in the modern era, the abdication of Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world in 2013.
Last Testament, in His own Words (Bloomsbury, 2016) is an historic memoir, answering intimate questions about his life and revealing a man of profound humility, heartfelt faith and intellectual acumen. The memoir follows a question and answer format, in the final collaboration between Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and German journalist Peter Seewald.
The memoir first examines his life as the only Pope Emeritus, asking topical questions about his motivation for abdicating. These anecdotes capture the powerful emotions sweeping the Vatican at the departure of a beloved Pontiff.
Peter Seewald asked, “What was going through your mind?” as the helicopter lifted Pope Benedict XVI on his departure from the Vatican.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI answered:
“I was very moved. By the heartfelt goodbyes, and that colleagues [voice breaks] were in tears, as well. Then, above the house of Bonus Pastor there was a big banner saying ‘Vergelt’s Gott’, (‘May God repay you’) and then the bells of Rome… [the Pope begins to cry]. That did move me deeply. But in any case, floating above like that and hearing the bells of Rome, I knew that I should give thanks, and the fundamental feeling was gratitude.”
The Pope Emeritus debunks conspiracy theories, as he explains the prayer and consideration that lead to his decision.
The book shares touching moments from the Pope Emeritus’ childhood, giving a glimpse of the joy of traditional Catholic family life in rural Bavaria.
Details of his University career follow, then work as Archbishop of Munich, and his time in the Vatican as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The final section is an evaluation of the meaning and significance of his reign as Holy Father. His challenges, reforms and encounters with major world leaders are explored.
The book was published by Bloomsbury at the start of November 2016 and is available at the Cardinal Newman Faith Resources in St Marys.
Gai Smith is the Manager of Cardinal Newman Faith Resources.
“Personally, I think the book will sell well as Pope Benedict is very popular. His writings are very holy and always reflect the Church teaching in a style that is easy to understand,” Gai said.
“I think it will be of great interest to find out why in his own words he resigned from Office rather than listening to the speculation and gossip of the past three years.”
“Books (and encyclicals) from Popes are reasonable sellers. Pope Benedict XVI and John Paul II are by far the most popular.”
“I really think it is a very interesting book.”