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German television takes a peek at the life of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

POPE Benedict XVI

DANIEL KARMANN | dpa Picture-Alliance | AFP

John Burger - published on 01/10/20

He was never allowed to retire to his native Bavaria, so Ratzinger brings a little Bavaria to the Vatican.

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You can take the cardinal out of Bavaria, but you can’t take Bavaria out of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

That is the feeling that comes across from Little Bavaria in the Vatican, a 30-minute documentary that aired on German television.

The documentary includes interviews with Pope Emeritus Benedict, recorded in September at his residence in the Vatican, the Mater Ecclesiae monastery. But he is heard only three times in the film—and in a very weak voice.

“I used to have a great voice; now it doesn’t work anymore,” Benedict, 92, says in the program, which aired January 3 on Bayerischer Rundfunk (Bavarian state television).

But there are many flashbacks to interviews he gave as Cardinal Josef Ratzinger and speeches he gave as pope.

“One sees that his strength isn’t there anymore,” his personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein says in the program. “His voice is simply broken, weaker.” But he adds that what is “important” to him is “good company” which “lifts his heart” and that he is “at peace with himself.”

We are treated to some rich detail of the place where he has lived since he retired from the papacy almost seven years ago. We see his padded vest and baseball cap—both white, of course—hanging on one wall, and a beautiful painting of St. Augustine, one of Benedict’s favorite thinkers, on another. A heart-shaped decoration adorns another wall with a Bavarian expression “Dahoam is dahoam” (“there’s no place like home”). Walls of books surround the pope as he and Gänswein sit at an oversized writing desk that Ratzinger has used for 65 years. He wrote most of his works on it.

We also get views of the two strolling the garden, with the help of a walker, and praying the rosary.

Gänswein, a native of the Black Forest, tells us that Benedict is “crystal clear in his head.”

When asked what people in Germany should know about his condition, the pope emeritus says that he is an old man at the end of his journey.

In the chapel is a replica of the Patrona Bavariae, a statue of the Madonna and Child, a gift from former Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber. The original is located in Munich’s Marienplatz.

“I am always very united to Bavaria, and every night I entrust our state to the Lord,” Benedict says. “In my heart, I am always connected with Bavaria.”

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