Pencil pals for Pope Benedict


Pope Benedict XVI working at a desk at the papal summer villa in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, July 23, 2010. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

VATICAN CITY — There’s a small movement underway to thank retired Pope Benedict XVI for all he’s done for the church and to urge him to keep enriching the world with his writings.

“Pencils for Benedict XVI” is an informal campaign started by UK Web developer Sonia Swabey and her team at their website and forum — a site named in recognition of the retired pope’s personal secretary and prefect of the papal household, Archbishop Georg Ganswein.

Sonia said they would like people to submit their personal reflections about what Pope-emeritus Benedict means to them and how he has influenced their lives.

The group plans on compiling into a book all the written contributions that are sent to its web address: The plan is to also include a box of pencils — the retired pope’s favorite writing tool — as a symbolic way to encourage him to keep writing.

Despite being gifted a portable laptop just a few days after he broke his wrist in July 2009, Father Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told reporters that the pope was “not used to writing with a PC; he isn’t very technological.” Father Lombardi said that, “especially in creative work, (the pope) prefers to use a pen” or as some rare pictures attest, a pencil.

Even though Pope Benedict said he would spend the rest of his days in prayer and meditation, it’s hard to imagine he’s not scribbling away, too.  When I was aboard the papal flight to the Czech Republic with him just two months after he hurt his wrist, he told us how difficult it was for him to have his writing hand immobilized by a cast and injury.

“My thoughts mostly develop through writing, so for me it was truly a test of patience to not be able to write for six weeks,” he had told us.

Sonia said the inspiration behind their “Pencils for Benedict” initiative is something Pope Francis said about having Pope Benedict living nearby at the Vatican. He told journalists this July: “It’s like having your grandfather in the house, a wise grandfather.  When families have a grandfather at home, he is venerated, he is loved, he is listened to.”

Now it’s your turn to tell the retired pope how you feel. The deadline for submissions to the campaign is Sept. 30.

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15 Responses to Pencil pals for Pope Benedict

  1. Livia Colantuoni says:

    Sono un’italiana che vive all’estero( USA ) da oltre 23 anni. Accolgo con gioia immensa, l’idea di poter scrivere delle brevi riflessioni per il nostro caro Papa Emerito Benedetto XVI.

    Rivolgo le mie preghiere al Signore perche’ continui a guidare il nostro caro Papa Benedetto, a scrivere ed ad insegnare a tutti noi tutto cio’ che detta il suo cuore di Papa e di padre-teologo. Noi siamo tutti come anime ‘assetate nel deserto’ che hanno bisogno della luce a della parola del Papa per soddisfare la nostra sete di Verita’.
    La sua saggezza, la sua immensa conoscenza, sono un grandissimo bene dal quale tutti noi, senza distinzione, possiamo imparare ancora tantissimo.
    Ha ragione il caro Papa Francesco quando dice che lui e’ come un Nonno saggio dal quale tutti noi possiamo andare per farci guidare con i suoi saggi consigli.
    Papa Benedetto ha un patrimonio immenso di conoscenza e tutti noi abbiamo desiderato e, desideriamo essere suoi studenti. Io ho studiato in Vaticano per la mia tesi di laurea, e avrei dato qualsiasi cosa per poter seguire le sue lezioni ed ancora oggi, continuare ad imparare nonostante l’eta’ adulta ed i capelli bianchi….

    Darei qualsiasi cosa per poterlo abbracciare e ringraziarlo per aver guidato la Chiesa in tutti questi anni con la sua silenziosa saggezza, frutto di un unione splendida con nostro Signore.
    Grazie caro Papa Benedetto! Lei e’ e sara’ sempre nelle mie preghiere.
    Grazie per averci guidato, unitamente al suo caro amico Giovanni Paolo II, verso la luce della Verita’. I suoi scritti rivelano la gioia dell’insegnante che vuole comunicare la Fede e l’Amore del Signore, con semplicita’ ed Amore profondo.

    Continui a scrivere, caro Padre. Abbiamo ancora bisogno d’imparare molto dalla sua conoscenza, dalla sua saggezza e dalla sua profonda fede ed umilta’.
    Aspettiamo con gioia ed intanto l’abbracciamo con infinito affetto e gratitudine. Le vogliamo bene davvero, ma proprio tanto.

    Che il Signore la benedica e la guidi sempre e che Sua Madre Maria, la conservi sempre in un posto speciale vicino al Suo Cuore Immacolato.
    Grazie caro Papa Benedetto. Le vogliamo tanto bene e ci manca. ❤

  2. Chris Mary Udeh says:

    I wil alwaz remember Benedic16, 4 his change in liturgy, his humility, concern 4 his flock. Well read. I will never 4get d day he lead us in prayer on world student day 2006, it was a memory i will never 4get. Love u Papa and pray u stay a little longer 4 us and have a peaceful bya 2 earth when ur tym wil be up. Amen

  3. Christopher Beevers says:

    Just for myself would like all salutations for Pope Benedict to take place.

  4. JWatson says:

    Benedict XVI will always have a very special place in my heart of hearts. But why send a composition on what he means to me to a fansite for Ganswein, when I can write directly to Benedict himself at the Vatican? As he is, in a way, a spiritual “grandfather” to us all – to me, he is a spiritual “father” – wouldn’t it be better to communicate directly to him, in much the same way we speak directly to our fathers and grandfathers? Why send our thoughts through someone else, when we can write directly to him?

  5. Carol Glatz says:

    Hi JWatson! The organizers said their plan was to compile all the comments into a book form to present to the pope. Obviously people should still write him directly! Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, 00120 Vatican City State (Italy)

  6. Blessed Pope Francis, You have influenced me greatly, I have always loved Jesus since my first Holy Communion. I am glad you are the Pope because you are so humble and like Jesus. We need help sending our children and grandchildren to Catholic school. Why they do not allow prayer in our public schools is for a select few, who should have to pay tuition for an atheist academy. I will continue to pray for you and our church. God bless you.

  7. JWatson says:

    Hello, Ms. Glatz. Yes, I understand that that is what they want to do, and they’re free to do that if they wish. But speaking for myself, I still prefer to write to Benedict directly, and I really would rather not send my thoughts over to a “fansite”. If my intent is to let Benedict know that he made a great difference in my life as a person and as a Catholic, then I’d rather “say” it directly to him, and what I would have to say would be between Benedict and me, as a child would speak directly to his/her father.

  8. The email address for submissions isn’t working

  9. Carol Glatz says:

    sorry about that. That shouldn’t have been a link. You’ll have to insert the email address using your own email account. Hope that works. Thanks for letting us know!

  10. Biancamargherita says:

    Caro Papa Benedetto mi manchi tanto; manchi a tutti noi. La tua saggezza, la tua umiltà, il tuo sorriso mi hanno accompagnato in questi otto anni. Mi hai insegnato a pregare ad amare la Chiesa; la mia vita è cambiata durante il tuo pontificato…….ti devo tantissimo. Ci hai lasciato un patrimonio immenso di sapienza e di amore. Non so cosa pagherei per poterti rivedere, riascoltare la tua voce…seguirti come ho fatto in questi anni. Prego sempre il Signore che ti stia vicino, che ti protegga e che ti accompagni nel cammino che hai scelto. Ti voglio bene…ciao

  11. Thank you very much! God bless you.

  12. Jan England says:

    Dear Papa,

    When you came to America, I was watching some of your visitations over the internet. During this time in my life I was struggling and feeling particularly tired and sad. As I watched one of your visits I felt your spirit touch my heart gently with encouragement and I cried. I knew then the mystical body of Christ really exists. You are a great example of tenderness and humility, and I trust you so very much. Thank you for loving God so and us as well. Please keep praying for us! I beg special prayers for my children, grandchildren, great- grandchild and godchildren, and for all my relatives and all people who do not yet know and love God. Thank you Papa.

    In Christ’s Ever Abundant Love,

    Your spiritual daughter Jan

  13. Bill Egan says:

    Beyond the writings of Pope Benedict XVI, almost unnoticed during his reign, was a single brief flash of magnificent artistry displayed in St. Peter’s Square last December. It was Pope John Paul II who first had a manger scene erected outside St. Peter’s Basilica in 1982. Each year, a new scene was created, often at outlandish cost. But the crèche art displayed in Benedict’s final year as pontiff stood out from all the rest. It is an example of the type of art that should be displayed in December inside every church around the globe. It’s art, not a Christmas decoration.

    As a tribute to the papacy of Benedict XVI, the 2012 presepio should take its place in the Vatican Museum alongside the works of Raphael, Olivuccio di Ciccarello, and Filippo Lippi. We haven’t seen many liturgically inspired masterpieces in the past hundred years. The Benedict XVI manger scene helps fill the void.

  14. Jacob says:


    He and JPII brought me to Christ, who will save my soul if I repent and eat of his Holy Body and drink of his Holy Blood!

  15. Char [Carla] Fiore says:

    Viva il Papa Benedetto e grazie. Thank you for all your wonderful
    spiritual services to the Church. You have been a wonderful Pope and we enjoyed experiencing with you for the past 8 yrs. Sono caro e simpatico and we wish you good health to further guide us and many more pencils to help bring that forth. God Bless you, stammi bene,
    Carla Fiore, USA.

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