Saturday, 6 October 2007

Putting the Cat in Catholicism

Is the Pope a cat-aholic? That's the question posed by the publication of a new children's book, Joseph and Chico.

The latest attempt to fluffify the Pontiff tells Ratzinger's not notably eventful life story from the point of view of a ginger cat who apparently formed a close bond with then cardinal when he went to stay in the comically-named Bavarian village of Panting.

Ratzinger is said to be fond of cats. Especially white Persians, I imagine.

Ratzinger's secretary and close personal friend, the famously handsome Georg Ganswein, writes in his introduction that "it does not happen every day that a cat considers the Holy Father to be his friend." Or writes a book.

Chico is, however, following in the literary pawsteps of Mrs Fifi Greywhiskers, a siamese whose memoirs were dictated telepathically to the New Age guru Lobsang Rampa, aka Cyril Hoskin, in the 1965 classic Living with the Lama.

Author Jeanne Perego says she adopted the device of a feline narrator to increase the book's appeal. "If I had just told his life story, it would have been boring."

Of course, there are plenty of interesting things to say about the Pope. But I doubt they would find their way into an officially authorised account.