The First Lady of the Vatican
Six months into the pontificate, they really need to grow up, shut up and let Ratzi be Ratzi.
Of course, I wrote the first major piece about Ingrid Stampa back in April. In July, the Berliner Zeitung chimed in, and then came the assessment of Peter Seewald -- of "Salt of the Earth" and "God and the World" fame -- calling Stampa "The Vatican's First Lady," a term which sent Italians, clericalists and misogynists through the ceiling.
And now, another treatment of Ingrid appears from the always-wonderful Inside the Vatican.
When the telephone at the papal residence rings, a pleasant, welcoming voice responds on the other end of the line” “Pronto”. It’s Ingrid Stampa, the German woman who manages the papal household and maintains perhaps the closest relationship with Pope Benedict XVI.Rumormongers, fa silenzio.
However, when Stampa realizes she’s being interviewed, her tone quickly turns from cheerful to apprehensive. “I am just like everyone else that works here,” Stampa said.
Stampa, 55, a simply-dressed, slender woman, who wears thin-rimmed spectacles and has neatly-cut short hair, sparked media attention when images of her touring the Apostolic Residence alongside the newly-elected Pope were broadcast on television in April. Since then, she has hardly left Pope Benedict’s side.
Father Anthony J. Figueiredo, who served as a special assistant to John Paul II, explained that Stampa could potentially be expressing her opinions from an intimate, albeit powerful platform: the Pope’s dinner table. “Him being an intellectual himself... I am sure at dinner they exchange views – and that is really where her knowledge is exercised,” said Figueiredo, who now works as an associate professor of systematic theology at Seton Hall University in the USA.As I've always said, this Pope likes the best and brightest around him. And his circle readily acknowledges that wearing a collar doesn't immediately single out one as being among the best and brightest in the church. There are a lot of people who can't handle that reality.
Regrettably, Stampa said, she hasn’t had time to put in the many hours it takes to practice her viola da gamba, since moving to Rome. “It has been many years now that I left that life, and chose a career to serve,” she said with a sigh. “I don’t do music anymore. I used to do concerts and public events. But God wanted me to do this life instead.”And as B16 said to her on election night -- when she was the first of his inner circle who got to see him -- "Let us together do God's will." And so it goes.