London: Pope Benedict XVI wanted to become a librarian 13 years ago, but failed to realise his dream because he was not allowed to quit the Vatican high office.
Incumbent librarian and archivist Cardinal Raffaele Farina has revealed that the current pope’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II, declined his request to spend his last years as the archivist of the Vatican Secret Archives and as a librarian of the Vatican Library.
In an interview with the Vatican magazine, Cardinal Farina recalled when he was appointed prefect of the Vatican Library in May 1997 he had a brief meeting with Cardinal Ratzinger in which he was asked his own opinion of the future pope joining the team.
At the time, the future Pope Benedict was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Pope’s doctrinal enforcer.
But he found his job “burdensome” and wanted to retire to academic study of ancient documents for the rest of his life.
He asked the Pope if he could step down from his role when he turned 70 on April 16, 1997, a move which would have permanently removed him from Vatican politics and from the eyes of the world.
“He was asking me what I thought of his idea and what being archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church involved,” the Telegraph quoted Cardinal Farina as saying.
“When I realised what the Pope-to-be really meant … I expressed clearly how happy I and the whole staff of the library were to have him join us,” he added.
Pope Benedict has previously said he would have liked for John Paul II to permit him to devote himself to study and research.
Pope Benedict has previously said he “would have liked for beloved John Paul II to permit me to devote myself to study and research into the interesting documents and materials … true masterpieces that help us to review the history of humanity and of Christianity”.