Pope Benedict has been asked whether he had ever considered resigning and if there should be a Third Vatican Council, in a new book due out this month.
The German journalist Peter Seewald asked the Pope a controversial set of questions over a week-long series of interviews during the summer for a new book entitled Light of the World, The Pope, The Church and The Signs Of The Times.
Mr Seewald asked the Holy Father questions about clerical abuse crisis, whether the Pope had ever considered resigning and whether the Church should rethink its teaching on celibacy, contraception, women priests and same-sex relationships.
He also asked whether divorced and remarried couples should be a allowed to receive communion, if there was a schism in the Church and whether there was any hope for Christian unity.
A list of Mr Seewald’s questions was published on the Ignatius Press blog yesterday.
Mr Seewald has already published two best-selling books of interviews with the Pope when he was still Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Salt of the Earth and God and the World.
The book will appear on November 24. The English-language edition is being published in Britain and Ireland by the Catholic Truth Society, and in the rest of the world by Ignatius Press. It will be published in eight languages and will be accompanied by a big launch at the Vatican. The foreword to the English edition was written by George Weigel, who wrote a biography of Pope John Paul II. The hard back will cost £14.99.
Speaking at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Mr Seewald said: “The book is in fact a small sensation or a big sensation. It is the first time that a Pope gives an account of himself in this form. It is the first personal interview with a Pope in the Church’s history.
“The events in the news around the abuse scandals and the wider situation of the Church naturally give this conversation an incredible explosiveness and I can only already reveal to you now that you are expecting a very exciting, very extensive book.
“It will also upset certain people in the Church, functionaries who are properly taken to task and many people also will be pleased to experience Josef Ratzinger’s view of things, first hand in his original tone. He did not reject any of my questions. He answered all the critical questions and answered them openly and unvarnished.”
Vittorio Messori, an Italian journalist, wrote and edited Crossing the Threshold of Hope, a book length interview with Pope John Paul II.It was the first book-length interview of a Pope. Mr Messori submitted a list of questions to Pope John Paul II for a televised interview, which never took place. The Pope was intrigued and scribbled down answers.