| VATICAN CITY
VATICAN CITY Chico the cat describes the life
of his "best friend", Pope Benedict, in an authorised biography
for children released this week.
"Dear Children, here you will find a biography that is
different to others because it is told by a cat and it is not
every day a cat can consider the Holy Father his friend and sit
down to write his life story," the Pope's personal secretary,
Monsignor Georg Ganswein, says in the foreword.
"Chico and Joseph -- A Cat Recounts the Life of Pope
Benedict XVI" is narrated by Chico who took up with the Pope in
his native Germany when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
The illustrated 44-page book is written by Italian author
Jeanne Perego and set mostly in Germany in the years before
Benedict was elected in April 2005.
Chico is a real cat who belongs to a German couple in the
German city of Pentling, where the Pope lived until he moved to
Rome in 1981. The couple are caretakers of the house where
Ratzinger had hoped to retire had he not been elected Pope.
Chico tells the story of the life of "my best friend" from
his birth in Germany in 1927, through his days as a young man,
priest, bishop and cardinal. It ends with his election as Pope
on April 19, 2005.
It recounts the Nazi era in Germany when the Pope was a
teenager, calling the war years "one of the most dramatic and
shameful times in the history of man".
"At that time, Joseph was forced to do something which was
absolutely against his will: john the army and leave for the
war. We cats do not make war," Chico narrates.
Chico recounts how each time then Cardinal Ratzinger
returned to Germany for a vacation, the cat would run into his
house and sit on his lap as he played the piano.
One Christmas, when the future pope tried to put the cat
out of the house "I misbehaved" and scratched him. "He forgave
me right away but told me: 'Don't do it again".
In his foreword Ganswein tells the children: "Keep in mind
that the cat is writing from his point of view. At the end of
the day he is a cat, even if he is a cat who is a friend."
During the years when he was a cardinal in Rome, the future
Pope befriended another cat he found on the street and kept him
in his apartment until he was elected pope.
There have been conflicting reports about whether that cat
moved into the Vatican with the Pope.