An audience with the Pope for DFG delegation

Holy Father remains a scientist at heart

Professor Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker, President of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG), was deeply impressed after a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in Rome last week. The Pope has remained a scientist at heart, said Winnacker. "I was also moved to see how Benedict XVI addressed each member of the delegation individually."

The occasion for the 30-minute private audience at the Vatican was the presentation of the first seven volumes of the research project entitled 'Roman Inquisition and Index Congregation,' conducted by church historian and Leibniz Prize winner Professor Hubert Wolf at the University of Münster. Since 1999 the DFG has been funding this project, which aims to publish a total of 24 volumes on the 400-year-plus history of Roman book censorship, taking a scientific point of view for the first time. The funding for the project is expected to continue until at least 2014. Pope Benedict XVI is very familiar with the subject, as he is a former Prefect of the Sacred Congregation, in whose buildings the archives are stored.

The Pope studied the volumes with great interest, identified various names and agreed to the further opening of the archives. The DFG brought the Holy Father a special gift: copies of the letter of appointment of Professor Joseph Ratzinger as a DFG peer reviewer on the subject of systematic theology in 1971, and as the deputy chairman of the review committee in 1976. The Holy Father was also evidently pleased to receive the paper showing the votes of the review election, in which Joseph Ratzinger received the highest number of votes, 61, ahead of the current Cardinal of the Curia, Walter Kasper, who obtained 53.

Among the sixteen delegates were six representatives of the DFG, including Vice President Professor Helmut Schwarz from Berlin. Other delegates included Professor Hubert Wolf and some of his colleagues, representatives of the Diocese and the University of Münster, and representatives of the Schöningh Verlag, the publisher of the volumes.

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A photograph of the audience is published on the DFG homepage and is available for download.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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