This Michael Dubruiel-edited book published by Our Sunday Visitor covers question and answer sessions from 2005 to 2007 which the Pope conducted with children, youth, and priests. There are seven parts or chapters.
The first session was with children who had made their First Holy Communion at St. Peterís in Rome on October 15, 2005. The Pope responded to questions on his memories of his own First Holy Communion, confession, seeing Jesus in the Eucharist, Mass attendance, and various topics on the Eucharist. The second session was held at St. Peterís in Rome on March 2, 2006, with priests from the Diocese of Rome. He responded to questions from the priests on Pope John Paul II, encouragement for mothers, Eucharistic adoration, Scripture, Pope Pius XII, the family, women involved in the Church, Africa, loneliness among young people, and work with the sick. At the third session at St. Peterís in Rome on April 6, 2006, the Pope responded to questions from young people about praying with the Bible (otherwise known as Lectio Divina), emotional issues of life, God and his presence in the world, and God the creator.
During the fourth session on August 31, 2006, at Castel Gandolfo, the Popeís summer residence outside of Rome, he met with some priests from the Diocese of Albano, Italy, responding to questions about pastoral work, liturgical prayer, marriage, and ministry to young people. In the fifth session with priests from the Diocese of Rome at St. Peterís in Rome on February 22, 2007, the Pope responded to questions on Mary, Eucharistic adoration, working and ministering to teenagers, reading Scripture, and priestly spirituality. At the sixth session of July 24, 2007, at the Church of St. Justin Martyr, Auronzon di Cadore, Italy, with priests from the Diocese of Belluno-Feltre and Treviso, Italy, the Pope answered questions about the formation of conscience, proclaiming the Kingdom of God through preaching and celebrating the Eucharist, marriage preparation, creationism and evolutionism, priests and lay people need to work together in pastoral ministry, and on Marxism. Session seven was held on September 1, 2007 at Loretto, Italy with young people, where the Pope responded to questions on hope and faith.
The intellectual level of the Popeís responses varies with whom he was addressing. The more complicated or academic answers are with the priests, while he uses simpler responses to the questions posed by young people. During the Popeís visit to the United States in April, he held similar sessions with bishops and others. These, though, featured questions submitted in advance with prepared answers from the Pope. Still, these occasions and this book show that Pope Benedict likes to have a dialogue about different topics. As most may know, this Benedict XVI is one of the most intellectual popes of the modern era. Before he was appointed Archbishop of Munich and before coming to Rome as prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith for Pope John Paul II, he had been a university professor. The Pope continues to rely on this aspect of his personality to fulfill his papal ministry, benefitting believers.
Each chapter begins with a note that sets the scene for the session. The questions posed to the Pope are differentiated by blue print (the name of the questioner is in the footnote). After the question, the Pope responds to varying lengths. Latin words were translated into English by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, and there are two appendices, the first being a short list of scripture references and the second being a topical index.
This book is highly recommended to those interested in what the Pope has to say on various issues.