Perhaps I was too hasty in identifying cultural sectarianism as the cause of the unreasonable level of vitriol generated by the election of Pope Benedict. Maybe it’s the age old dog person vs. cat person thing:
“Oh, cats,” she said. ” He loves them.”
She pointed up a staircase to a wall full of painted plates, each depicting a different cat. The brothers collected the plates together, she said.
“When we were on vacation, a cat, a little kitten, would come by, and he’d be giddy, almost giggling with joy,” she said.” Cats love him; they always go to him straight away. And he loves them back.”
He doesn’t have a cat, however. Heindl doesn’t think he can have one living in the Vatican.
“He was always content to play with the street cats,” she said. “I don’t know much about Rome, but I know there’s no shortage of cats there.”
Benedict still owns the house he bought on the edge of Regensburg in 1970, but he visits only a couple times a year. The city adjusted his deed this week: It now lists the owner as “Holy Father.”
On Thursday afternoon, Chico the cat – perhaps the closest thing there is to The Pope’s Cat, strolled from the shaded arch between the pope’s front door and his garage. Chico belongs to Rupert Hofbauer, who looks after Benedict’s garden and home.
“Chico is his friend, though he scratched him over Christmas because he didn’t want to go outside, all day or night, and the cardinal tried to put him out,” Hofbauer said. “They usually get along well, though.”