• John Thavis

What was in the box?

One unanswered question from yesterday’s meeting between Pope Francis and retired Pope Benedict: What was in the box?

The Vatican video showed the two men sitting down for their 45-minute private conversation, facing a table on which a white box was placed. On top of the box were two large envelopes.

As soon as the image was shown in the Vatican press office, reporters joked that the box must have held the famous Vatileaks dossier, the confidential report prepared for Benedict by three cardinals and left by the ex-pope to Francis.

If the dossier needed a box that big, things were worse than anyone thought.

More likely, sources said, was that the box contained correspondence for Benedict – letters, emails and other communication – that arrived after the German pope left office Feb. 28. The Vatican had said that goodbye messages were pouring in for the pope from world leaders and average people.

Officially, there was no explanation for the cardboard container or the envelopes, which explained why today’s newspaper headlines spoke of the “mystery” box. Some hypothesized that Benedict was handing over all the important documents regarding unfinished projects of his pontificate, including Curia reform, negotiations with the Lefebvrists and his unfinished encyclical on the Year of Faith.

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