Benedict XVI’s new memoir, a lengthy interview with German journalist Peter Seewald, is being translated into English and will be released this November.Letzte Gespräche is being translated as Last Testament by Jacob Phillips, a lecturer in theology at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham. It will be published by Bloomsbury.
The work is the fruit of several interviews conducted by Seewald a few months after Benedict resigned from the papacy.
It touches on recent events such as the reform of the Roman Curia, his abdication, and Pope Francis, as well as serving as an overview of his life, from his childhood to his time as Bishop of Rome.
It includes Benedict’s childhood under the Nazi regime, the hardships of the war and the discovery of his vocation to the priesthood, his appointment as Archbishop of Munich, and his time in the Vatican prior to his election to the papacy. It also covers his first few days as successor of St. Peter as well as his decision to resign and his thoughts on Pope Francis.
In his responses to Seewald, Benedict speaks about himself, his faith, his weaknesses, his private life, and the scandals and controversial issues of his papacy.
The retired Pope also speaks about the reform of the Roman Curia, the “Vatileaks” scandal that many pinned as the reason for his stepping-down, and outlines the differences between him and Francis in light of “his own peculiarities” and those of his Argentine successor.
Last Testament is Seewald’s fourth book-interview with Benedict. In 2010 he published Light of the World, and while Ratzinger was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith they produced Salt of the Earth and God and the World.
Phillips, the books’ English translator, is an affiliate of St. Mary’s Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society. He earned his doctorate at King’s College London, writing about the Lutheran pastor and Nazi victim Dietrich Bonhoeffer.