Jounalists never satisfied

I was impressed by the news that the Holy Father had consented to give an interview to four German journalists and I was looking around for some interesting comment on it. I was fairly cheerful until I found a post on the Ratzinger Forum by "Studiosus" who is in fact Michael Gutner, a clerical student at Salzburg.

He reports on an interview given by Fr Gemmingen SJ about the interview of the Pope. Bear in mind that this man is not employed by a secular newspaper but by the Vatican.

I have translated Gutner's Italian version. The original German text (although differing in some respects from Gutner's) is on this page at I would be grateful for any corrections from those who know German better than I do (not difficult). This interview has prompted me for the first time to use the red comments device. I leave it to the laity to add the appropriate expletives which would not be right on a priestly blog.
Rev Fr Eberhard von Gemmingen SJ, head of the German section of Vatican Radio, was one of the 4 journalists who interviewed the Holy Father. After that interview, he spoke about the papal interview.

P. Gemmingen SJ: The interview took place in a large room at Castel Gandolfo. In the middle of this room with a marble floor, there is a circle with a diameter of perhaps 2 metres. His Holiness sat on one side, we journalists on the other side of this circle. So there was about 4 metres distance between the Holy Father and us, [err - not actually. If the diameter was 2 metres, you were about 2 metres apart - as indeed the photograph shows] and before the beginning, we asked His Holiness, “Holiness, must we shout now so that you can hear us?” But the Pope heard well. [So journalists can speak in such a way that a person can hear them six feet away. Hold the front page!]

Journalist: “And what was the atmosphere of the conversation?”

P. Gemmingen SJ: “Notably cold, I would say. The Pope said “Yes, I feel as though I am before a tribunal” but also we journalists were sat as if in a court. [There have been times when you would have been excommunicated - or even served a cup of suspiciously strong coffee - but actually, you were being given an interview with a Pope for the first time in history in case you didn't notice.] The Pope spoke fairly briefly, and so the interview did not last 45 minutes – as was planned – but only 36 minutes. [Translation - after AIDS, contraception and ecumenism you guys just ran out of questions.] When the interview was finished, His Holiness said: “Thanks be to God, it is finished at last!” [With "friends" like Fr Gemmingen, I don't blame him.]

Journalist: “And why did His Holiness not feel good being interviewed?”

P. Gemmingen SJ: “I think his intellect said to him: “with an interview, I can reach into many, many living rooms and therefore I can say all that I want to say” Besides, the Pope did not impose it on himself, but was asked, and the Vatican permitted it. [Eh what?! He's the Pope. He doesn't need "The Vatican's" permission] Then, it must be said, the Holy Father is a very profound man. He knows how to respond to very many topics: from AIDS, to the family, to the deepening of the faith, then to ecumenism; so to say something with only 3 minutes at most for each topic - it is not easy. I think one would have felt better in other situations, not sat in front of a court, of a tribunal, and one could have deepened the questions. But that was not possible today, unfortunately.
Here is a photo of Fr Gemmingen. (Click for a dartboard-sized version.)

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