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I’d heard that someone had written a children’s story about the pope’s life as told from a cat’s perspective. I thought it was a novel idea, and when a publicist asked if I’d like a copy, I said I’d take a look. Joseph and Chico is by an Italian journalist living in Bavaria. You can tell that she’s not usually the author of children’s books, and there’s an excess of cutesy cat jokes for my taste. But where else are you going to read about B16’s favorite Christmas teddy bear, or the time he fell into the fish pond and was rescued by his siblings? The book is a great introduction to Joseph Ratzinger for children, and shows the humble background from which he came. It also has an introduction from the pope’s private secretary, Fr. Georg Gänswein, who, among other things, summarizes the life and work of Benedict in four sentences: “To begin with, I agree with the fact that the Holy Father is a special person, but it is above all because he is a real friend of Jesus. This is important! Here is the secret of his life: only by becoming a true friend of Jesus can we learn to open our hearts to the people we meet and to all the people of the world . . . . Precisely because he is filled with trust in Jesus, the Pope is not discouraged by difficulties and never gets tired of loving everyone.” That much was clear when he came to America. If you know any young children who’d like to get to know the pope better, Joseph and Chico might be a good way to make an introduction.

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