“Here kitty, kitty”

(Cross-posted from CNS World Youth Day blog)

SYDNEY, Australia — The problem with giving the pope a few days of rest is that news editors still want their reporters covering the pope to write something. Sometimes it’s to write anything.

Monday’s big pope news, then, was the fact that members of Opus Dei, which is hosting the pope’s three-days of rest at the Kenthurst Study Centre outside Sydney, assigned an 11-month old gray kitten named Bella to keep the pope company.

Pope Benedict is known to be fond of cats and his personal secretary, Msgr. Georg Ganswein, even wrote the introduction to a children’s book telling the pope’s life story through the eyes of Chico the Cat.

While the folks who answered the phone at Kenthurst this morning (it’s already Tuesday in Australia) were sworn to secrecy and would not answer any questions related to their very special guest or about the kitten, the World Youth Day media office confirmed that the kitty is in residence.

The Vatican Television Center and the Vatican newspaper provided video and photos from the pope’s first full day at Kenthurst, showing him celebrating Mass, taking a stroll and listening to a special concert of classical music. But Bella the cat was nowhere to be seen.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the papal spokesman, briefed reporters last night on the pope’s day. Asked about Bella, he said, “I know nothing about a cat.”

Now, of course, some photographer is dreaming about approaching the Kenthurst house, camera in hand, and whispering, “Here kitty, kitty.”

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