Vatican to Publish Private Homilies of Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI. | Credit: Vatican Media

The Vatican will publish the previously uncirculated “private” homilies of the late Pope Benedict XVI in the coming year, the Holy See has announced. 

The Vatican Publishing House said Dec. 23 that it intends to release “a book of some 130 homilies given by the late Pope Benedict XVI at private Sunday Masses,” according to Catholic News Service (CNS).

The homilies comprise “30 given while [Benedict] was pope and more than 100 given to members of his household once he retired,” CNS reported.

The homilies were reportedly transcribed by members of Memores Domini, a lay association that lived with Benedict, the news service said. Four female members of the organization worked in Benedict XVI’s papal household and also moved with him to the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery after his retirement.

Neither the Vatican nor the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation, who also announced the publication of the homilies last week, gave a date for when the writings would be fully published. 


The Vatican City newspaper L’Osservatore Romano and the German newspaper Die Welt published the first of the homilies earlier this month. 

That homily was a meditation on St. Joseph, according to CNS. In it, Pope Benedict observed that “the danger is that if the word of God is essentially law, it can be regarded as a sum of prescriptions and prohibitions, a package of norms, and the attitude, therefore, would be to observe the norms and thus be correct.”

“But if religion is like that, if that is all it is, there is no personal relationship with God, and man remains within himself, seeks to perfect himself, to be perfect,” the late pope said, observing that it is difficult to love a God “who presents himself only with rules and sometimes even threats.”

Christians, Benedict noted, face “the same temptation, the same danger that existed in the Old Testament: even a Christian can arrive at an attitude in which the Christian religion is regarded as a package of rules, of prohibitions and positive norms.”

The late pope passed away on Dec. 31, 2022, having retired in 2013. He was the first pope to voluntarily resign since Celestine V in 1294. 

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Last year, Ignatius Press published the book “The Divine Project: Reflections on Creation and Church,” which collected six lectures of Benedict XVI that had been recorded on audio cassettes but then misplaced for 30 years and forgotten. 

Benedict, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, delivered that series of lectures in 1985.

Daniel Payne is a senior editor at Catholic News Agency. He previously worked at the College Fix and Just the News. He lives in Virginia with his family.