ROME, NOV. 23, 2010 ( It seems that nothing escaped the curiosity of Peter Seewald when he sat down to interview Benedict XVI ... and the Pope did not exempt himself from any of the questions.

That's how Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, characterized the book-interview with the Holy Father released today from Ignatius Press.

The archbishop participated in a presentation today in Rome of "Light of the World," by German journalist Peter Seewald.

He first reflected on the title of the book, saying that generally in an interview, it can be assumed the interviewee has the central role. "In this case, that is not so. The title chosen does not permit getting detained on the person of the Pope, but goes beyond, to the One who still after 2,000 years illumines history, because he said he was the 'light of the world.'"

Thus, the archbishop opined, the Church is the protagonist of the book.

"The many questions that make up the conversation do no more than evidence the nature of the Church, her presence in history, the service that the Pope is called to carry out and -- not something secondary -- the mission that still today he must continue in order to be faithful to his Lord," he said.


Archbishop Fisichella observed that the interview covers a vast range of themes: "It seems that nothing escapes the curiosity of [Peter] Seewald who wants to enter the folds of the Pope's personal life, the great questions that mark the theology of the present, the various political ups and downs that have forever accompanied relations between different countries and, finally, the questions that often occupy a great part of the public debate.

"We are before a Pope who does not exempt himself from any question, who wishes to clarify everything with simple language -- not because of this less profound -- and who accepts with benevolence the provocations that so many questions pose."

Perhaps alluding to the media storm that the book has already caused due to comments the Holy Father made regarding condoms, the archbishop added: "To reduce the whole interview to a phrase extrapolated from the whole of the thought of Benedict XVI would be an offense to the Pope's intelligence."

"What emerges from the complex picture of these pages, instead, is the vision of a Church called to be light of the world, sign of unity of the whole human race," he said.


Archbishop Fisichella said the book condenses the thought of the Pope -- "his preoccupations and sufferings of these years, his pastoral program and his expectations for the future."

"The impression one gets," the prelate said, "is that of an optimistic Pope on the life of the Church, despite the difficulties she has always had."

In this regard, he noted how the Pontiff declares that the Church "grows and is alive," and observes how the number of priests and seminarians around the world has increased in recent years.

"As if to say," the archbishop said, "the Church cannot be identified only in the fragment of a geographic area; she is a whole that founds, embraces and surpasses every part."

Different look

Archbishop Fisichella contended that "Light of the World" enables the reader to "perceive with clarity the thought of the Pope," and, he said, "some will have to change their mind" about him.

"Familiarity, confidences, irony, in some moments sarcasm but, above all, simplicity and truth are the characteristic traits of the conversation chosen by Benedict XVI to bring the greater public to share in his thought, in his way of being and his way of conceiving the mission that has been entrusted to him," the Vatican official concluded. "An enterprise that is not easy in the age of communication that often tends to stress only some fragments and leaves globalism in the shade. A volume to be read or to be meditated to understand once again in what way the Church can be in the world the herald of beautiful news that brings joy and serenity."

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