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The Ratzinger Foundation at the service of the Holy See

Vatican Insider - published on 06/27/16

The Joseph Ratzinger Foundation places all its scientific and charity activities at the service of the Church and the pope, whoever he is. At the moment that would be Francis. The institution said this in a statement published today, which reads: “Ever since its establishment in March 2010, the Vatican Foundation Joseph Ratzinger – Benedict XVI and all of its activities has had the one and only aim of serving the Supreme Pontiff and his magisterium, in the ways that characterize this Foundation, donated since the very start by Benedict XVI to the Holy See and the Pontiffs who succeed him.” This is significant and in fact highlights even more the nature of the bond that unites Francis to the Pope Emeritus.

“As far as the Foundation’s charity work in particular is concerned, ten scholarships are awarded each year to students in Italy and abroad. 120,000 euros worth of scholarships were handed out in 2015.”

Then there are all the formation activities, conferences, seminars and Theology training courses which are offered throughout the world thanks to the Foundation’s proceeds. These partly come from the royalties that derive from the sale of almost 100 volumes written by Joseph Ratzinger. Sales peaked when the Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine for the Faith was elected Pope; this success continued throughout his pontificate and was fueled also by the celebrated trilogy on Jesus, authored by Benedict XVI. The Foundation’s statement was issued following the publication of an article which appeared on Italian website The article contains a statement from the body’s president, Mgr. Giuseppe Scotti, who said: “Now we work for Francis, even though the Foundation was created with Benedict XVI’s money.” The title, meanwhile was a bit of a stretch, speaking about the Foundation being “ceded” to Francis.

Benedict XVI’s royalties brought in around 300,000 euros per year. The decision was taken to financially separate the Vatican Publishing House from the Razingerian corpus, moving towards the idea of a foundation, which was approved by Ratzinger, who changed the nature of the institution, allocating the proceeds not to himself but to students and other initiatives. In essence, the Foundation is not a publishing house for Benedict XVI’s works but manages the proceeds from the royalties he receives. The Foundation’s statute was definitively approved by Pope Francis in 2014. It is estimated that the institution initially had several million euros’ worth of endowments. The Foundation’s website explains: “The assets of the Vatican Foundation Joseph Ratzinger – Benedict XVI include: the initial endowment from royalties deriving from the texts authored by Professor Joseph Ratzinger, the sum being decided by him; all movable and real estate property as well as sums and other transferable securities which should result from the acquisition of inheritance, legacies and bequests from all sources, in favor of the Foundation; any assets which the administrative council decides, upon consultation with the college of auditors, to earmark for the enhancement of the Foundation’s holdings.”

The article published by adds that although the proceeds deriving from royalties received by the Foundation have dropped in comparison to when Ratzinger was pope, they are still significant. Every year the Foundation sets aside 120,000 euros for scholarships, as well as a sum for the Ratzinger Prize (the winner is announced by Pope Francis), while another chunk is allocated to high-level scientific conferences involving Catholic universities and their collaboration over important and current theological issues. Naturally, the promotion of Theology and Ratzinger studies also play an important part in all of this.

Meanwhile, tomorrow, a solemn ceremony for the celebration of the 65th anniversary of Ratzinger’s ordination to the priesthood is to be held in the Clementine Hall in the Apostolic Palace. This is another record, considering that Leo XIII was the last Pope to achieve a similar milestone and that was at the beginning of last century.

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