Saturday, January 05, 2008

Pope Benedict and his great love of cats

As the owner of two cats myself, one of which makes a determined effort every day to get into church for Mass (and in the summer often succeeds when the outside doors are left open) I always enjoy hearing about Pope Benedict`s liking for cats too. Here is a recent story from translated by Chris Gillibrand of the ever informative Catholic Church Conservation blog.

The Pope wanted to write books about those with velvet paws.

In the New Year, Pope Benedict XVI has to cope with a number of appointments, traveling also is ahead of him and he has to write a book and two Encyclicals.

He only very rarely has time for himself. But now he has told his neighbour in the papal apartments, what he would really do, if he just dreams for a couple of moments. Then he thinks of his secret wish:

To write a book about cats.

Secret vocation:

The Pope would like to be the author of cat stories

A cat at the Coliseum in Rome:

The Pope loves the stray animals

As Joseph Ratzinger said in April 2005, following the funeral of his friend, Pope John Paul II, he finally after 24 years in Rome would go back to Germany, because he had a plan: to write stories, stories about cats.

Joseph Ratzinger has had cats around him for decades, not least when he was leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Congregation lies on what was once one of the busiest streets of Rome, the Via Aurelia. On this street every day, cats are injured. Not a few of the animals are carried into the garden of the nearby Congregation. There resided Ratzinger, then Cardinal, who took care of moving the cats. He fed them with milk when they were hungry, dressed their wounds, watched as they lay in the sun and slowly recovered. And he gave them all a name.

About these cats, he wanted to write. But his election of Pope stopped these plans. As Pope Benedict XVI, from then on, he had to take care of the great Universal Church instead of the small cats on the Via Aurelia.

The responsibility weighs particularly heavily at present on the 81-year-olds. Bishop Cornelius Korir of Eldoret in Kenya reported today to the Pope on the phone from the battlefield: "They have burnt down a church in which there were 200 people. Children and the elderly were trampled down and burned.

"The Pope does not even take the normal short Christmas holiday in Castel Gandolfo. He worked on without Christmas holidays. In the coming year, he must travel in the United States, Australia, and to Lourdes in France and has to prepare a speech on Monday to the diplomatic corps.

But little has changed in his friendship with the cats of the Vatican.

I park my motorcycle on the way to my office at the Vatican always at the border crossing- the Paul VI Audience Hall. Swiss Guards keep watch there. If previously scattered animals tried to get into the garden of the Vatican, they shooed the animals away.

But when the guardsmen now see a cat, then they let it simply into the beautiful gardens of the Pope. Because they know that Benedict XVI, if he praying in the afternoon at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in the Vatican, is always pleased when he sees a cat. Because then he returns to his old dream: that he did not want to be Pope, but planned instead to write cat stories.


Anonymous said...

I find this very endearing. there can't be much wrong with a man who loves cats.

Anonymous said...

I disagree, I cannot stand cats and cannot understand why anyone does like them. Even Pope Benedict, it seems, has a blind spot.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Anonymous 2, here is a chance to seek to conform your mind to that of the Holy Father! :)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2 replies that while I am happy to conform my mind to that of our Holy Father, dare I say that the love of cats is not an article of faith.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Geez. So that's it. I knew there was *something.* The man harbors CATS. That explains a lot. No Cat has ever pulled anyone out of a burning building, and they never will. It's not even that they can't ... they WOULDN'T.

Anonymous said...

Dear Fr. Brown:

We enjoyed your January 8, 2008 blog, "Pope Benedict and his great love of cats".

Perhaps you and your parishoners would be interested in our new book "Joseph and Chico: The Life of Pope Benedict XVI as Told by a Cat". The Introduction was written by Fr. Georg Ganswein, the Pope's personal secretary:

Although written for children, the beautifully illustrated book is very popular with adults and cat fanciers of all ages.

"Joseph and Chico" can be ordered from our UK distributor, Family Publications in Oxford, England:

God bless.

Paula Johnson
Client Information Manager
Ignatius Press
2515 McAllister St.
San Francisco, CA 94118 USA

Phone: +415 387 2324.
Fax: +415 387 0896
US Web catalog:

Unknown said...

Cats can and have saved people from fires, by waking them up, so that they can escape.

Anonymous said...

I am grateful that there is such a learned man who loves cats to such an extent. Destiny has made him the Pope and not permitted him to work according to his wishes - to be with his cat friends.