Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The First Lady of the Vatican

You know, certain people still get all twisted about the fact that a smart, strong laywoman is playing the role of papal confidante and brain trust.

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.

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.
Rumormongers, fa silenzio.
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.



Blogger Thomas said...

fascinating little story. enjoy the blog, will have to read more before rendering a judgement. :)

12/10/05 19:49  
Blogger Thomas said...

oh hey - i just saw your post about the nurse running to hug the pope... it reminded me of when I was at World Youth Day in Koln, Germany about a month and a half a go... at one point this really cute girl assistant ran up to the pope and asked for his blessing and ran away... as she did all the big screens covering the marienfeld showed this one cardinal giving her a sizeup/eyebrow raise as she shuffled away... the whole field errupted in a big chuckle... haha.

12/10/05 19:54  
Blogger Jeff said...

"certain people still get all twisted about the fact that a smart, strong laywoman is playing the role of papal confidante and brain trust."

"There are a lot of people who can't handle that reality."

Rocco, where do you get this stuff? Did some kook write an email?

I move in traditionalist and "conservative" circles and I haven't heard one complaint about Stampa, not one! Not even a raised eyebrow!

And believe you me, I know people who don't even LIKE the Pope--he's too liberal! But nothing about Stampa. So where, I ask, where do you get this? I haven't seen it anywhere. I think you're making it up.

12/10/05 20:37  
Blogger Fungulo said...


Somewhere down the page, I saw you being accused of writing about Georg because you want his job.

Go on, admit it: you want Ingrid's too, don't you.

(And her frocks?)

13/10/05 09:30  
Blogger christianspectator said...

Rocco wants Ingrid and the Pope to get married and to move into married Papal quarters in the Vatican..........

13/10/05 09:46  
Blogger Julie said...

The last comment is ridiculous!

13/10/05 09:51  
Blogger christianspectator said...


I wish it were but I fear it's not!

Nothing short of a long-term love affair between Mrs Stampa and Joseph Ratzinger will do!

13/10/05 09:53  
Blogger Julie said...


Pope Benedict is honest and I'm sure he respects his vow of chastity.

13/10/05 10:07  
Blogger christianspectator said...


I thought so too; but with Mrs Stampa around the Vatican (and where does she live now???) None of us can ever be sure.

Hate to say this, but it seems she gave up her music not because God told her to, but because she had fallen in love with Joseph Ratzinger and wanted to be with him.

I know it's hard to have to accept but I think Catholics who want a celibate priesthood are being conned into believing this is the case.

Rocco is only too happy to portray them as a couple........

13/10/05 10:17  
Blogger Julie said...


Sorry, but I prefer to trust the Pope.

13/10/05 10:25  
Blogger Rocco Palmo said...

That kind of griping reminds me of the days when Queen Christina of Sweden renounced her crown, converted to Catholicism and went to live in Rome. When she dined with the Pope, because he was the Pope and she wasn't, they ate at separate tables two inches apart, because the papal table had to be higher and a woman was unworthy to sit at the papal table....

It seems some are quite content to extend that mind-set (implying the inferiority of the fairer sex) into the 21st century. But, gratefully, the Pope hasn't sought out 15th century counsel in forming his circle of friends and advisers.

13/10/05 10:27  
Blogger christianspectator said...


Because as a Catholic you have no choice and the alternative is too painful to contemplate? I sympathise, I really do.....

Popes lived with women in the Vatican in the past and they were far from chaste. How do we know what he's doing with her in the Vatican.? She must be laughing to think she has something on him and one day I fear all will be revealed and it will just give people like Rocco something else to write about........How sad!

13/10/05 10:32  
Blogger Julie said...


What are you trying to do? I trust the Pope not because I'm a Catholic but because I know he's honest.

To compare Alexander Borgia and Benedict XVI is almost a blasphemy.

Jesus was friend with women. A lot of great saints were friends with women.

13/10/05 10:42  
Blogger Un Séminariste said...

"christianspectator" is the spokestron of the local chapter of the Masters of Suspicion Club(™), it seems.

13/10/05 10:51  
Blogger Barry Manilow said...


Don't worry yourself about ourold dearie, the Self-designated-Christian Inspectator!

Remember that line about "to the pure all things are pure"?

Inspectator has tipped her hand on here many times . . . her fantasies about Benedict and Ingrid actually seem a whole lot healthier than her previous fantasy life regarding Rocco. She called him "Baby" . . . which is only one step away from asking him "Who's your Daddy?"

Another queen with nothing to do . . . but lots doing on the inside!

13/10/05 10:52  
Blogger christianspectator said...


Pope Benedict's 'friendship' with Mrs Ingrid Stampa calls into question his vows of celibacy.....

O.K, none of us can PROVE there is anything going on between them or has gone on in the past; but just as valid is the fact that no one can PROVE there hasn't/or isn't.

I would hate to be conned in this way by a hypocrite.......

13/10/05 11:01  
Blogger Julie said...

The vow of chastity doesn't prohibit a friendship with a woman. We have an example with Jesus. Jesus was chaste and was friend with women.

13/10/05 11:15  
Blogger Jeff said...

When I google "christianspectator", I come up with this as the third of three listings (the others are on Rocco):

" Features. Smut 101--A Pornographer's Guide To Writing Scorching, Stylish, Sellable Erotica."

I decline to visit the actual site, thanks.

I think we are dealing with a troll who wants to titillate and get our collective goat. And perhaps work up some fiction, some tawdry "scorching, sellable erotica" about wicked Catholic clerics.

Do we know whether this is the same christianspectator as Our Beloved Commenter? Well, it's TRUE, no one can PROVE it's so, but we all KNOW, etc., etc.

As for anyone who denies the age old principle that, "Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander", Let Him Be Anathema!

13/10/05 11:39  
Blogger Jimmy Mac said...

Why did this blogsite become an online version of the National Enquirer all of a sudden?

13/10/05 12:05  
Blogger copycat said...

I've always thought there was something wrong with Stampa's living arrangement with Ratzinger/Benedict XVI. A priest living with a woman would be suspect, why not a cardinal/pope? We don't really know anything about Benedict's personal life, so why should we believe he's honored his vow of celibacy? He always said he was a "free thinker."

13/10/05 15:33  
Blogger Julie said...

I think christianspectator is now "copycat"...

13/10/05 15:42  
Blogger copycat said...

No, copycat just has the same suspicions. It's not like priests, bishops, cardinals, etc. haven't given us enough reason. I just think Benedict had an inappropriate living arrangement and there is reason to wonder. He may look like a wimpy, little old man, but you never know.

13/10/05 15:46  
Blogger Jonathan said...

"That kind of griping reminds me of the days when Queen Christina of Sweden renounced her crown, converted to Catholicism and went to live in Rome. When she dined with the Pope, because he was the Pope and she wasn't, they ate at separate tables two inches apart, because the papal table had to be higher and a woman was unworthy to sit at the papal table...."

Err...I think the griping tends to be of a different nature, as I have yet to see a traditionalist conservative complain about Ingrid Stampa because she is a woman.

The griping by that inspectator person above, which sounds more gossipy than traditionalist, seems to be more common.

I personally do not think that this woman is hanging around the Pope with puppy-dog eyes. If I recall correctly, the Polish Commies tried to say the same thing about then Cardinal Wojtyla because a beautiful young female philosophy student (I think) spent a lot of time with him. In the end, all the two were apparently trying to do was trying to get Cardinal Wojtyla to finish his book on phenomenology. Although, there have been a few biographers who have insinuated that the woman had a "latent attraction" to the Cardinal, I find such charges to be mere shallow reminders of this sexualized age we live in.

13/10/05 21:32  
Blogger Jimmy Mac said...

Oh, c'mon kids: we ALL know that ANY woman who "hangs" with a priesty boy is a Near Occasion of Sin, and to be avoided at all costs. Mothers and sisters are OK, but not the most desirable of company.

Priests should only be seen with other priests, preferably fully kitted out in long black dress and little pillbox hats with the obligatory pom-poms. Sporting oversized rosaries looped through their belts earns extra Safe and Traditional Points, too.

14/10/05 02:52  
Blogger christianspectator said...

According to an article dated 23rd December from 'Catholic World News', entitled 'The (very) Private life of Benedict XVI', Ingrid Stampa NEVER DID JOIN THE PONTIFICAL HOUSEHOLD.

So much for being 'First lady of the Vatican' eh?

17/1/06 05:04  

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