It will be the first in-depth interview of the Pope since his election in 2005

Pope Benedict XVI has given a series of interviews to a German journalist that will form the basis of a new book to be published later this year.

The Vatican said this week that the Holy Father and fellow Bavarian Peter Seewald spoke several times over the course of the final week in July at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, just outside Rome. It will be the third time their conversations have been published. Mr Seewald interviewed then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger for his 1996 book Salt of the Earth: Christianity and the Catholic Church in the 21st Century, a transcript of interviews on the state of the Church from Cardinal Ratzinger’s perspective as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, said the new book would be published before the end of the year by the Vatican’s publishing house in German and Italian.

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Mr Seewald comes from a Bavarian Catholic family but became involved in Left-wing politics and founded a radical Left-wing newspaper in Bavaria in the 1970s.

After writing on religious themes, Mr Seewald returned to the faith in the late 1990s, partly attributing the conversion to Cardinal Ratzinger.

The two men have remained friends since, and Mr Seewald followed up his original book with a sequel, God and the World, in 2000.

Mr Seewald has written three other books about the Pope, The German Pope – From Joseph Ratzinger to Benedict XVI, Benedict XVI: An Intimate Portrait and Benedict XVI: Life and Mission.

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