The Repeat Dinner Guest
This is at least the second time the Pope -- who is quite fond of dining quietly and alone, in contrast to the rollicking, marathon meals which marked his predecessor's domestic life -- has brought his fellow German up for an evening visit and meal. The only other curialist to be so received was Bishop Renato Boccardo, the now-former advance man for the papal trips, who noshed with Benedict as he brought the Pope up to speed on the logistics for the Cologne trip in the early summer. (Boccardo remains the #2 man to Cardinal Edmund Szoka at the Governatorato, the Vatican's equivalent of City Hall.)
The only other papal intimates whose dinner privileges in the new pontificate have become public knowledge are, of course, Hans Kung -- who spent four hours and dinner with his former protege in late September -- and Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, the German social commentator, modern art collector, philanthropist, etc.
Speaking of TNT, we'll soon be seeing if she gets her wish of hosting the Pope at Schloss St. Emmeram, the Thurn und Taxis mega-compound at Regensburg, when Papa Ratzi makes his triumphant Bavarian homecoming next year. It seems she's competing against the Pope's brother, Msgr Georg, who would like his brother to spend his evenings at the quiet home on a cul-de-sac to which Joseph had hoped to retire by now -- you know, the place with all the porcelain cats, cat plates, everything feline. Meow.
And in that vein, I just want a photo of the Pope and a cat -- any cat, anywhere. Of course, the camauro-philes would have a gigantic hissyfit (probably on my voicemail) as fur which hasn't been skinned for vesture purposes would be all over the cassock.
Then again, that's what ministry's all about after all, isn't it?