Let’s leave the condoms on the bedside table for now. Pope Benedict XVI has much more to say in his book-length interview with German journalist Peter Seewald.

In “Light of the World,” Seewald, an earnest Catholic, guides the pope through topics ranging from pedophile priests and drugs to the ordination of women and the Second Coming. Benedict’s responses, some humorous, are worth reading even after you’ve flipped to the bit where he says condoms may be justified in some cases, as “perhaps” for a male prostitute.

Even as a lapsed Protestant, I was engrossed by the book’s rare insights into a leader who usually appears impossibly aloof — an elderly, white-robed patriarch viewed from afar, waving to crowds and speaking Latin. (He wears the cassock even at home, he says. No sweaters for him.)

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