Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican press spokesman, tried to dissuade Pope Benedict XVI from going ahead with the Peter Seewald interview, it emerged this week.
According to the Italian blogger Andrés Beltramo, Fr Lombardi had said that in the current media climate it would be “a huge risk”. The Pope, though, was not worried. Beltramo says he responded to Fr Lombardi’s comments with “the knowing smile of a Pope who knew what he was doing”.
But was he right to dismiss Fr Lombardi’s concerns? The media always tend to simplify and distort what the Pope says; many Catholics believed last weekend that he wanted to change Church teaching on condoms – until they actually read what he said. Even now, his comments still cause confusion.
On the other hand, aside from all the controversy about condoms, Light of the World is a brilliant book. It shows the Pope’s thinking in all its clarity, wisdom and beauty. And it’s being whisked off the shelves: through it he is able to speak to millions of people who otherwise might not listen to what he had to say.
So, was it wise for the Pope to give the interview? Or should he have just written a book himself, and thus limited the risk of his words being distorted?