Pontiff’s Book a Gift, Aide Says

A Key to Understanding Pontificate

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 15, 2007 (Zenit.org).- For his 80th birthday, Benedict XVI is the one giving a gift to the Church by sharing his personal search for the face of Christ, says Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi.

The director of the Vatican press office said this during the “Octava Dies” program of the Vatican Television Center, referring to the Monday release of the Pope’s book “Jesus of Nazareth,” which coincides with his 80th birthday.

“When a person has a birthday we usually give him a gift. The Pope is celebrating his 80th birthday, but he is the one giving the gift,” said Father Lombardi.

The Vatican spokesman said that the book “is a fruit of a life of reflection, of cultural research, of meditation, of pastoral experience, in Christian faith.”

“Reading it,” he added, “we understand why he was so determined to complete it despite the responsibilities he has for the universal Church that have come to dominate his days in the last two years.”


Father Lombardi said that the focus of Benedict XVI continues to be “knowing and listening to Jesus so as to enter into a living and profound relationship with him; understanding what Jesus wanted to bring us: the knowledge of God.”

The priest added that the book is a paradox in that the Pope “himself tells that this book is not a document of the papal magisterium, but the fruit of a personal theological commitment; we have the clear impression that, reading these pages, we have a precious key for better understanding many aspects of his pontificate.” The Jesuit said that by reading the book we “know better who the Pope is, what is truly essential for him, and thus what he wants to tell us, what he wants to tell all believers in Jesus Christ, all men and women of today.”

“We are profoundly grateful to him,” added Father Lombardi.

The Italian, German and Polish editions of the book will be in stores Monday. The English-language editions will be published May 15 by Doubleday in North America, and by Bloomsbury in the United Kingdom.

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