For a year and a day
The Cafeteria is Closed reveals one of the most closely guarded secrets of the Vatican.
After the funeral of his friend Pope John Paul II., Joseph Ratzinger thought he'd be able to return home to Germany after 24 years in Rome. He had a plan - writing stories, stories about cats.
Joseph Ratzinger had cats around himself for decades, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The CDF is on the Via Aurelia, one of the most traffic-heavy streets in Rome. Daily, cats are killed or injured. Quite a few drag themselves into the garden of the CDF, where Ratzinger resided and movingly cared for them, feeding them, bandaging their wounds, watching them lie in the sun and slowly get better. And he gave names to all of them. ...
His friendship with cats has changed the Vatican a little bit. I park my Vespa on my way to work at the Vatican border, the hall of Paul VI., where Swiss guardsmen keep watch. When stray animals tried to enter the Vatican gardens in the past, they shood them away. But now, when the guards see a cat, they simply let it pass, into the Pope's beautiful garden, because they know that Benedict XVI., when he prays at the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in the afternoon is happy to see a cat, and he thinks again of his old dream: writing books about cats.
Every cat-friend knows how all sagas on such a topic should end: in a quiet garden or a wood near a hill hard by the sounding sea.
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.