On 19 April 2005, three days after his 78th birthday, the Cardinals gathered in Conclave in the Sistine Chapel elected as head of the Church Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He took the name of Benedict. On 16 April 2012, Pope Benedict XVI will be 85 years old and will have completed the seventh year of his ministry as Successor of Peter. This book, entitled Benedikt XVI. – Prominente über den Papst, which perhaps certain readers might consider somewhat ostentatious, does not at all intend to be sensational but wishes to be a small birthday present for the Holy Father.

In all about 20 prominent figures of the Church and of the worlds of politics, culture, the economy and sport said that they were willing to make a brief contribution, expressing their personal idea of the Pontiff and his work. The profiles these authors have written, as well as their activities, are as different as the experiences and viewpoints from which they have drawn for their respective portraits of the Supreme Pastor of the Church. Fittingly, not only Catholics have desired to express their viewpoint, but also Evangelical Christians; they make no secret of their religious faith nor do they fear to point out, from their own personal viewpoint, certain desiderata. Every contribution is like the piece in a mosaic that contributes to achieving, in the end, a colourful image in which it is possible to identify the essential features of Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate. The titles of the various contributions are like clues and offer a panorama of the content. They wish to ensure that not only do readers become acquainted with the book but they are also taken by the hand and immersed in the content. I cannot but warmly invite you to do so: it is worth reading!

It may be superfluous, but for reasons of correctness it is nonetheless appropriate to emphasize expressly that this work is not a courtesy task commissioned “by the upper echelons”. The authors received no instructions, they were all given complete freedom to say whatever they wished. There is no trace of censure! They all wrote what they had in their hearts and minds and, for this reason, each one is exclusively responsible for what he or she has written. One thing, however, which they all had at heart, was the sincere desire to do justice to Pope Benedict, as best they could, but writing unblinkered. They left no room even for the diktat of the politically correct. In a positive way: what the authors had before their eyes and which served them as a guide was the request for “that initial goodwill without which there can be no understanding”, in the words of the Holy Father (Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Volume I, English translation, Doubleday, New York, 2007). All felt pleased to respect this request by conviction and inclination.