Retired pope’s publisher presents him with copy of his first contract

German publishing company Verlag Herder has paid tribute to retired Pope Benedict XVI, 94, as its most loyal and oldest living author. In 1956 the then-29-year-old theologian signed this contract to work on the “Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche” (“Encyclopedia for Theology and the Church”). (CNS photo/courtesy Verlag Herder)

BERLIN (CNS) — The German publishing company Verlag Herder GmbH has paid tribute to retired Pope Benedict XVI, 94, as its most loyal and oldest living author.

The German Catholic news agency KNA reported that, during a recent visit to the Vatican, publisher Manuel Herder presented the retired pope with a copy of his first author’s contract from 65 years ago.

On Nov. 8, 1956, the then-29-year-old theologian signed a contract to work on the “Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche” (“Encyclopedia for Theology and the Church”). His contribution included an article on the “resurrection of the flesh.”

Herder said that, during his visit, the retired pope had shown great interest in the theological works he had brought with him.

“He laughed and said with amusement, ‘If you bring me so many books, you must also bring me the time to read them.'”

The retired pope also was pleased to receive a copy of his first publishing contract, said Herder. He added that Pope Benedict had been “very, very awake and absolutely in good spirits.”

During the conversation, it also became clear that the retired pope followed current developments in theology and the church very closely, Herder told KNA.