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Aug 24 16 10:49 AM
In an interview as part of a new biography set for an Aug. 30 release in Italy, emeritus Pope Benedict XVI once again knocks down speculation about the motives for his resignation, saying it was solely because he was tired and unable to take up another grueling international trip.Ever since February 28, 2013, when emeritus Pope Benedict XVI unexpectedly, and in Latin, announced his resignation, theories regarding why became too numerous to count: scandals over leaked confidential documents, his health, an alleged “gay lobby” in the Vatican, and so on.Benedict said at the time he was stepping down because he was 86 and lacked the strength to continue with his mission of leading an institution present in every corner of the world, with over 1.2 billion members.In a recent interview he expanded on that explanation, adding more details. Among other things, he said that his March 2012 trip to Mexico and Cuba had taken such a toll that he knew he’d be incapable of making another grueling international trip. He says he agreed with his doctor it’d be better if he didn’t make such a demanding outing.He had one looming: A July 2013 trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to lead millions of youth from around the world in a week-long festival known as World Youth Day in July 2013. Hence he saw it as his “duty” to resign from the papacy, sooner rather than later after his return from Mexico and Cuba.That snippet was shared by the emeritus pope himself in an interview with Italian Elio Guerrero, author of the upcoming book “Servant of God and Humanity: The biography of Benedict XVI.” It’ll be released in Italian on August 30, and no date for an English publication has yet been announced.The book includes not only a preface by Pope Francis, but also an interview Guerrero had with Benedict.The emeritus pope also reveals that he wasn’t worried with his decision, because from the beginning of his pontificate he knew he was “a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.”“From the beginning I was conscious of my limits and I accepted [the papacy], as I’ve always tried to do in my life, in a spirit of obedience,” Benedict says. “Then there were the difficulties, more or less big, in the pontificate, but there were also so many graces. I realized that I couldn’t do all that I had to alone, so I was forced to put myself in God’s hands.”He also speaks of God’s Mother, and several saints, “companions of a life journey,” such as St. Augustine and St. Bonaventure. Yet, he adds, not all his support “came from above. Every day I received numerous letters not only from the greats of this earth, but also from humble and simple people who wanted to let me know that they were close to me, that they prayed for me.”These letters, it’s well known, continue to arrive, and he’s taken the time to answer many of them. (those which make it through the filter)As he’s done several times since his resignation, Benedict also had words of praise for his successor. Sharing some personal details, he says Francis had tried calling him right after his election, but when the Argentine couldn’t reach the German, the pope had phoned him again right after greeting the crowd that had gathered to welcome him in St. Peter’s Square.“Obedience to my successor was never put into discussion. But later came a feeling of deep communion and friendship,” Benedict shares.Personally, the emeritus pope says, he’s been very touched by Francis’s “extraordinary human availability.”Benedict XVI also thanks Francis for the gift of a “marvelous fatherly-brotherly relationship,” with the Argentine pope often sending him small gifts or hand-written letters, and always finding the time to visit his predecessor before embarking in a long trip.“The human kindness with which he treats me, is for me a special grace in this last phase of my life. What he says regarding being available to others is not just words. He puts it in practice with me,” Benedict says.In the preface, Francis writes that the Church has a “great debt of gratitude” towards Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI for the profundity and equilibrium of his theology.“The courage and the determination with which he confronted difficult situations have indicated the path to respond to them with humility and truth, in spirit of renewal and purification,” Francis wrote.
Aug 25 16 4:47 AM
“Obedience to my successor has always been unquestionable. Then there is a sense of deep communion and friendship,” the Pope Emeritus said ahead of the publication of Peter Seewald’s book-length interview with Benedict XVI in a few days time. The conversations in this book, titled “Latest conversations”, took place after Benedict XVI’s historic decision to resign from the papacy. Italian newspaper La Repubblica gives readers a taste of these conversations by publishing a dialogue between Ratzinger and Elio Guerriero, editor of the Italian edition of Ratzinger’s works, who had a chance to speak to the former Pope. ( Guerriero is publishing a biography of Ratzinger on 30 August) The confirmation given about the time frame within which Ratzinger decided to resign and the key role intercontinental trips played in this – particularly the visit to Rio de Janeiro for WYD 2013, which Benedict XVI did not feel up to - are significant aspects. “There were numerous commitments which I felt I was no longer able to carry through,” Ratzinger explained. “Notably, the World Youth Day which had been scheduled to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the summer of 2013. I was very certain of two things. After the experience of the trip to Mexico and Cuba, I no longer felt able to embark on another very demanding visit. Furthermore, according to the format of these gatherings, which had been established by John Paul II, the Pope’s physical presence there was paramount. A television link or any other such technological solution was out of the question. This was another reason why I saw it as my duty to resign.” “The visit to Mexico and Cuba,” the Pope Emeritus went on to say, referring to March 2012, “had been a beautiful and moving experience for me in many ways. In Mexico I was struck by the profound faith of so many young people who communicated their joyous passion for God. I was equally struck by the great problems afflicting Mexican society and by the Church’s efforts to seek a faith-based response to the challenge posed by poverty and violence. I need scarcely remind you of how impressed I was in Cuba to see the way in which Raul Castro wishes to lead his country onto a new path, without breaking with the immediate past. Here too, I was deeply impressed by the way in which my brothers in the Episcopate are striving to navigate through this difficult process, with the faith as their starting point. However, during those visits I became acutely aware of the limits of my physical strength. Above all, I realised that I was no longer able to face future transoceanic trips due to jet lag. Naturally, I discussed these problems with my doctor, Professor Patrizio Polisca too. It thus became clear that I would not be able to take part in the World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in 2013, there was the obvious jet lag problem. From that moment on, I had a relatively short amount of time to decide on the date of my withdrawal.” Towards the end of the interview, Benedict XVI speaks about his successor, Francis. “Obedience to my successor has always been unquestionable. Then there is a sense of deep communion and friendship. The moment he was elected I felt, as many others did, a spontaneous sense of gratitude towards Providence. After two Pontiffs from Central Europe, the Lord set his eyes as it were on the universal Church and invited us towards a broader, more Catholic communion. I personally felt deeply touched right from the start by Pope Francis’ extraordinary human warmth towards me. He tried to reach me by phone right after his election. He wasn’t able to get hold of me so he tried again straight after the meeting with the universal Church from St. peter’s balcony and he spoke to me in a very cordial manner. Since then, he has given me the gift of a marvellous paternal and fraternal relationship. I often receive small gifts, letters written in person. Before undertaking any major trips, the Pope always comes to visit me. The human kindness he has shown me is for me a special grace in this final phase of my life, which I can only be grateful for. What he says about being close to other people are not just words. He puts them into practice with me. May he in turn feel the Lord’s kindness every day. For this, I pray for him to the Lord.”
Aug 27 16 10:17 AM
Arthur Schlesinger once said that President John F. Kennedy could look at all the polling numbers he wanted, but he didn’t really grasp how deep public support was for a nuclear test ban treaty until he hit the road and heard from the crowds.Surveys are useful for assessing opinion, but to gauge intensity and depth of feeling, sometimes a leader needs to see for him or herself how real people react.A similar point could be made with St. Pope John Paul II and ecumenism. The pontiff was already firmly committed to closer ties with other Christians by 1999, but when he traveled to overwhelmingly Orthodox Romania that year and was greeted by large crowds enthusiastically chanting unitate! unitate!, meaning “unity,” it helped drive home that this wasn’t just a theological or academic undertaking, but a transcendent popular cause.The lesson is that crowds sometimes teach things polls can’t, perhaps not so much about what people think, but how passionately they’re thinking it.That insight comes to mind in light of a new Italian biography of emeritus Pope Benedict XVI to be published Aug. 30 called Servant of God and of Humanity, written by theologian and historian Elio Guerriero.The book carries an original preface by Pope Francis, which was published Wednesday by the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference. In it the pontiff reflects, among other things, on what he sees as the blessing of having Benedict around.“His discrete presence and his prayer for the Church are a continual support and comfort for my service,” Francis writes.“Who better than him can understand the joys, and also the difficulties, of service to the universal Church and the world of today, and be spiritually close to the one called by the Lord to carry that weight?” Francis asks, obviously rhetorically.“For that reason, his prayer is especially precious, and his friendship especially appreciated,” the pope says.Francis goes on to say that the situation the Church finds itself in today of having two living popes, one in office and the other emeritus, is a “novelty.” He doesn’t add, perhaps because he didn’t need to, that it’s a novelty not everyone finds entirely satisfying.From the beginning, there have been critics of the arrangement. Some argued that because there can be only one pope at a time, the right thing for Benedict to do would have been to renounce all insignia and titles associated with the office and return to being Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.Others feared that having a retired pope around would be divisive and destabilizing, as critics of the new pope would rally around the old one.Certainly there has been a bit of that in some quarters, and there are still some writers and theologians to this day who question the validity of Benedict’s resignation and thus whether Francis is actually a legitimate pope. To his credit, Benedict has never played that game, professing his support for Francis at every turn and otherwise staying out of the fray.There were howls of protest recently when Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Benedict’s long time aide, made the seemingly common-sense suggestion that the new situation implies an expanded Petrine ministry, with an active member and a contemplative one. Some appeared to see it almost as the prelude to a putsch, if not a schism.Francis is obviously aware of that reaction, and in effect his preface to the new Benedict biography delivers his response.“Since they love each other,” Francis says of having two popes, “it’s a beautiful novelty.”“In a certain sense,” he says, “it expresses in a particularly clear way the continuity of the Petrine ministry, without interruption, like links in a single chain forged by love.”Then, Francis comes to what he apparently sees as the popular bottom line.“The holy people of God, on the path, have understood this very well,” he asserts.In terms of how he knows what people think, here’s what he says: “Every time the emeritus pope has appeared in public, at my invitation, and I was able to embrace him in front of everyone, the joy and the applause of those present has been sincere and intense.”Francis’ conviction seems to be that while theologians, ecclesiologists and bloggers may be perplexed or perturbed, the ordinary people of God aren’t. They love Benedict just as they love Francis, in part for who they are, but perhaps even more for what they represent.They also love seeing the two men together, as a sign of unity and spiritual kinship that cuts far deeper than the politics of the moment, and their reaction whenever it happens in public confirms the point.In effect, Francis is saying that the people have spoken, and what they’ve said is that having two popes around is just fine.For the record, Francis also, for the umpteenth time, rejects the idea that there’s any break between his papacy and Benedict’s, arguing that both, as with the other recent papacies, ultimately pivot on the loving mercy of God, calling it “the most urgent message of a Church reaching out, even to the peripheries, of a world marked by conflicts, injustices and disrespect for the human person.”“The entire life of thought and works of Joseph Ratzinger has aimed at that end, and in the same direction, with the help of God, I’ll try to continue,” he said.While that may not be enough to satisfy all the critics of the two-pope arrangement, one in charge and the other at prayer, it seems more or less like Francis’ final verdict.
Aug 28 16 3:53 PM
Aug 31 16 3:14 AM
Aug 31 16 3:19 AM
Aug 31 16 6:25 PM
In an interview With Theologian Elio Guerriero, the Pope Emeritus Talks About His Renunciation and His “Fraternal” Relation With His Successor Francis, Adding “My Obedience Was Never in Discussion”Benedict XVI is very peaceful when he speaks about his historic renunciation to the pontificate, as he was so calm when he communicated the epochal news to the College of Cardinals and to the world.Moreover, this renunciation “was a duty for me,” confides the Pope Emeritus himself in the interview published today by La Repubblica with theologian Elio Guerriero, Director of the Italian edition of the Communio Review, founded in 1972 by Von Balthasar, De Lubac and Ratzinger himself.Among other things, Guerriero is about to publish a biography dedicated to Benedict XVI. It is, in fact, a meeting planned to bring the last chapters to the Mater Ecclesiae convent and to offer the writer the occasion to ask “some questions by way of an interview” to the Pope Emeritus, who, “kind and practical as usual” answers: “Ask me the questions, then send me the whole and we’ll see.” The fulcrum of the conversation is his relationship with his Successor Francis, in this unprecedented historical situation of the coexistence of ‘two Popes’ in the Vatican, in addition, of course, to questions on his renunciation. In this regard, Ratzinger explains: “I had at heart to bring the Year of Faith to fulfilment and to write the Encyclical on Faith that should conclude the course begun with Deus Caritas Est,” but “in 2013 there were numerous commitments that I felt I could no longer carry out.”First among these was the July WYD at Rio de Janeiro. “After the experience of the trip to Mexico and Cuba I felt unable to undertake such a demanding trip,” Benedict confides. Moreover, “with the setting given by John Paul II to these Days, the Pope’s physical presence was indispensable” and “and no thought could be given to a television connection or to other ways guaranteed by technology. This also was a circumstance for which the renunciation was a duty for me. “However, the Pope had the “certain confidence” that even without his presence “the Year of Faith would in any case come to a good end. Faith, in fact, is a grace, God’s generous gift to believers. Therefore, I had the firm conviction that my Successor, exactly as then happened, would also bring to a good end the initiative willed by the Lord and launched by me.”It was in fact during the trip to Mexico that the decision matured to renounce the Petrine ministry. The trip “was good and moving from many points of view,” but in those same days – continues Ratzinger – “I experienced forcefully the limits of my physical endurance.” “I realized especially that I was no longer able to face in the future transoceanic flights because of the problem of the time zone. Naturally I also spoke about these problems with my doctor, Professor Patrizio Polisca. Thus it became clear that I could no longer take part in the World Youth Day at Rio de Janeiro; against it clearly was the problem of the time zone. Thereafter I had to decide in a relatively brief time on the date of my withdrawal.”Once the decision was made, however, thought had to be given to practical things. For instance, where to live after the renunciation? Benedict XVI was illumined when remembering that John Paul II had decided that the Mater Ecclesiae convent, which in the past had been the dwelling of the Director of Vatican Radio, should become “a place of contemplative prayer, a source of living water in the Vatican.” “Having learned that the three-year period of the Visitation Sisters was expiring that spring, revealed to me almost naturally was the awareness that this would be the place where I could retire to continue in my way the service of prayer for which John Paul II had allocated this house,” recalls the Pope.The rest is history. Many, notes the interviewer, expected a decadent scenario in which to mourn “one overcome, one defeated by history.” Instead, there is now in this convent, immersed in greenery, a serene and confident man. “I am fully in agreement,” affirms Ratzinger, “that I should really have been worried if it were not that I was convinced, as I said at the beginning of my pontificate, that I was a simple and humble labourer in the Lord’s vineyard. I was convinced from the beginning of my limitations and I accepted, in a spirit of obedience as I always tried to do in my life. Then there were the more or less great difficulties of the pontificate, but there were also many graces.”In regard to obedience, Joseph Ratzinger specifies in the interview that obedience to his Successor “was never in discussion.” “At the moment of his election – he recalls – I felt, as so many, a spontaneous feeling of gratitude to Providence. After two Pontiffs from Central Europe, the Lord turned His gaze, so to speak, to the universal Church and invited us to a more extensive, more catholic communion.”“Personally — he continues — I remained profoundly touched from the first moment by Pope Francis’ extraordinary human availability in my meetings with him. Immediately after his election, he tried to reach me on the telephone. Not succeeding in this attempt, he telephoned me again immediately after his meeting with the universal Church from Saint Peter’s balcony and he spoke to me with great cordiality. Since then he has given me the gift of a wonderfully paternal-fraternal relationship. I often receive small gifts, letters written personally. Before undertaking important trips, the Pope never fails to visit me.”“The human benevolence with which he treats me – confides the Bavarian Pope – is a particular grace for me in this last phase of my life, for which I can only be grateful. What he says about availability to other men, is not just words; he puts it into practice with me. May the Lord make him feel His benevolence every day. I pray for this to the Lord for him.”
Sep 6 16 1:28 AM
Sep 7 16 7:13 AM
Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned in 2013, struggled with his decision to take a vow of celibacy, the former pontiff's biographer says."He really was a very smart guy, an attractive young man, an aesthete who wrote poems and read Hermann Hesse," Peter Seewald told the Christ & Welt edition of Germany's Die Zeit newspaper."One of his fellow students told me he had an impact on women, and they had an impact on him. The decision to become celibate was not easy for him," Seewald says in the interview published on Wednesday, two days before the release of his latest publication on the ex-pontiff.Seewald tells the newspaper that Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, 89, hadn't expected to live for a long time after his resignation in 2013, but his resilience meant he was always able to "pull himself together."A book of interviews with the former pontiff - compiled by Seewald and titled Final Conversations - will be released on September 9.
AFP - Retired pope Benedict XVI fell in love during his student days in Germany and struggled with the idea of celibacy, said the author of a new book to be published Friday.The author also reveals that Benedict, 89, remains a "news junkie", likes to potter around and enjoys watching the "Don Camillo & Peppone" black-and-white comedy films about an Italian Catholic priest and a communist town mayor.The anecdotes emerged in interviews German journalist Peter Seewald conducted with the first pope to retire in seven centuries, many of them published in the book "Final Conversations", to be released in several languages Friday.Seewald told German news weekly Die Zeit, in an article to appear on Thursday, that the erstwhile Joseph Ratzinger "fell in love... in a very serious way" as a student, although this episode is not included in the book."He struggled with it very much," Seewald said of the man who would go on to be the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics."He was really a very smart-looking guy, a handsome young man, an aesthete who wrote poetry and read Hermann Hesse."A fellow student told me he had quite an effect on women, and vice versa. The decision to chose celibacy wasn't easy for him."Seewald believes "there is a close personal relationship" between the ex-pontiff and his successor, Pope Francis, whose "vigour" he admires.Benedict has made only a handful of public appearances since he stepped down on February 28, 2013 saying he no longer had the strength of mind or body to carry on.Asked whether he would celebrate his 90th birthday next year, the retired pope who uses a walking frame and is blind in his left eye, reportedly said "hopefully not"."You realise he has lived his life," said Seewald. "I don't want to say he is tired of life, but that he has simply given all he's got to give."Seewald added that Benedict "himself never expected to live very long after his resignation"."But Ratzinger has an ability to bounce back. One day you think, this was the last visit. The next time you realise he has gathered new strength."
Sep 7 16 11:32 PM
Retired Pope Benedict XVI has said the work of governing the global Catholic church was not his "strong point" and that he had a weakness of "little resolve" before the difficult decisions he faced.But in his first substantial comments since his renunciation of the papacy in 2013, to be published in a new book-length interview Friday, the retired pope also says that while there were difficult moments in his reign it was "also a period in which many people found a new life in the faith.""A weak point of mine was maybe little resolve in governing and making decisions," admits the ex-pontiff in the book, titled Ultimi Conversazioni ("Last Conversations"), and excerpted Thursday in Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper."In reality I am more a professor, one who reflects and mediates on spiritual questions," Benedict states. "Practical governance is not my strong point and this is certainly a weakness.""But I do not see myself as a failure," he continues. "For eight years I carried out my work."The new book is based on conversations Benedict had at some point after his retirement with German journalist Peter Seewald, with whom he also published a book-length interview during his papacy. The English language edition of the volume is to carry the title Last Testament: In His Own Words and be published Nov. 3.In the excerpts released Thursday, Benedict widely praises his successor Pope Francis, calling him "the man of practical reform.""He was an archbishop for a long time, he knows the trade," the retired pope says of Francis. "He was a superior of Jesuits and has the ability to put his hands to action in an organized way. I knew that this was not my strong point."Speaking to his 2005-13 reign as pontiff, Benedict admits there were "difficult moments," citing specifically three scandals that occurred during his papacy: Continued questioning of the church's handling of sexual abuse; his decision to lift the excommunication of traditionalist Bishop Richard Williamson, who denies aspects of the Holocaust; and the so-called Vatileaks trial at which his butler was found guilty of publishing secret documents.Setting aside the scandals, he states, "it was also a period in which many people found a new life in the faith and there was also a great positive movement."Benedict also says he was surprised by the March 2013 election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who took the name Francis, and initially he was unsure of the choice."No one expected him," says the retired pope. "I knew him, naturally, but I did not think of him. In this sense it was a big surprise. I did not think that he was in the select group of candidates.""When I heard his name, initially I was insecure," he states."But when I saw him speak on one hand with God, and on the other with people, I was truly content and happy," he continues, in an apparent reference to the memorable moment when Francis was introduced to crowds in St. Peter's Square and bowed his head towards them and asked that they pray to God to bless him in his ministry.Benedict also reveals that Francis tried to call him before heading out on the balcony but that the new pope's call went unanswered because the retired pope and his party "were right in front of the television."The retired pontiff bluntly rebuts those who have claimed he resigned the papacy due to threats of blackmail or some other malfeasance."No one tried to blackmail me," he states. "If someone had tried to blackmail me I would not have left because you cannot leave when you are under pressure.""It is also not true that I was embittered," he continues. "In fact, thanks to God, I was in a peaceful state of soul, of one who has overcome the difficulty -- the state of soul in which you can tranquilly pass the helm to who comes next."The retired pontiff says he himself wrote the famous declaration announcing his resignation, which he read aloud in Latin on Feb. 11, 2013 to a meeting of cardinals and bishops at the Vatican."I wrote the text of the resignation," says Benedict. "I cannot say with precision when, but at the most two weeks before.""I wrote it in Latin because something so important you do in Latin," he continues. "Furthermore, Latin is a language in which I know well how to write in a more appropriate way. I would have written it also in Italian, naturally, but there was the danger that I might make an error."In a theme he often touched in his papacy, Benedict also uses the book to criticize what he calls the "de-Christianization" of Europe."It is evident that the Church is always abandoning more the old traditional structures of European life and therefore is changing its appearance and living new forms in itself," he states in the excerpts. "It's clear most of all that the de-Christianization of Europe is progressing, that the Christian element is always vanishing more from the fabric of society.""By consequence, the church must find a new form of presence, must change its way of presenting itself," says the retired pope. "Epochal upheavals are underway."
Sep 8 16 2:13 AM
Former pope Benedict XVI has admitted decision-making is not his forte, while saying he does not consider his papacy to have been a failure, according to excerpts from a interview in a new book about him."Practical government is not my forte and this is certainly a weakness," Benedict said in the new book by Peter Seewald, Final Conversations, according to excerpts published Thursday by Corriere della Sera ahead of release. The 89-year-old German, who became the first pontiff to step down in six centuries in 2013, praised his successor Pope Francis."He is a man of practical reform and he also has the soul to intervene and take measures of an organization nature," he said, adding he was "happy" about Francis and saying that his election showed the Catholic church was still vibrant. Benedict XVI quit citing poor health at a difficult time for the Church, after a long series of child sex abuse scandals and the first of the two Vatileaks criminal cases regarding the leaking of confidential documents to the media. But he dismissed speculation he may have been blackmailed or pressured into retiring. "It was not a retirement made under the pressure of events or a flight made due to the incapacity to face them," said Benedict, who lives a reclusive life inside the Vatican and rarely appears in public. "No one tried to blackmail me. I would not have allowed it.If they had tried, I would not have gone because it is not right to leave when under pressure.And it is not true that I was disappointed or anything else".
Sep 8 16 5:55 AM
Advance details have emerged of some of the contents of a new book interview with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, due to be published in various languages tomorrow. The English edition is not expected until November.The new book, called “Benedict XVI - Last Testament: In His Own Words” by German author Peter Seewald, is said to be a mix of autobiography, testimony and written defense. The aim is to help Joseph Ratzinger explain himself and his pontificate to the world, according to its publishers.The German daily Suddeutsche Zeitung, which has seen an advance copy of the book, says Benedict discusses “delicate” matters such as the strengths and weaknesses of his pontificate, cliques, religious doubts and Pope Francis.It is “written in an easy style and is rich in anecdotes”, the newspaper says, and refers to many facts and stories which anyone familiar with Benedict and his pontificate will probably already be aware of.For instance, he discusses how much his election as Pope burdened him and how he knew precisely the dark side of the Church having been prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.Pedophile priests, murky finances and corruption were the “filth” in the Church which he wanted to eliminate, but they were hard to get rid of. "Of course I wanted to do more than I could," the Pope Emeritus says. During his pontificate, hundreds of pedophile priests were dismissed and he says he smashed a homosexual network in the Vatican. "Whether that has formed again, I do not know," he says.He goes on to say that he underestimated the political significance of his 2006 Regensburg speech which upset much of the Muslim world, but says Vatican officials gave him poor advice ahead of his decision in 2010 to lift the excommunication on Bishop Richard Williamson. He later learned that the former SSPX bishop had denied the extent of the Holocaust — a revelation that led to a “huge propaganda campaign” being “unleashed against me,” he says. The former Archbishop of Munich makes some strong judgments about the Catholic Church in Germany, long criticized for being wealthy but lacking faith. He complains about "a well-established and highly paid Catholicism" there, along with an "over dependence on unholy bureaucracy", a "theorization of faith" and "lack of a living dynamism."The newspaper report says Benedict is more gentle when he talks about Francis. He says his successor’s election completely surprised him, and initially unsettled him, but cordial dealings with him have since made him happy. Francis emphasizes different things, but there are no contradictions., he believes. In an interview this week in Die Zeit, Seewald said Benedict “was in love as a student, and it was very serious" and that it was a “a serious problem for him.”“In the years after the war, there were female students for the first time. He was a very smart guy, a good-looking young man, an aesthete, who wrote poetry and read Hermann Hesse ... He had an impact on women and was impacted by them," Seewald said, adding that the former pontiff's vow of celibacy had been a tough decision for him.The German author, who has written several well known books already with Joseph Ratzinger, Print Article Benedict XVI To Reveal More Details of His Life and Pontificate in New BookAdvance details have emerged of some of the contents of a new book interview with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, due to be published in various languages tomorrow. The English edition is not expected until November.The new book, called “Benedict XVI - Last Testament: In His Own Words” by German author Peter Seewald, is said to be a mix of autobiography, testimony and written defense. The aim is to help Joseph Ratzinger explain himself and his pontificate to the world, according to its publishers.The German daily Suddeutsche Zeitung, which has seen an advance copy of the book, says Benedict discusses “delicate” matters such as the strengths and weaknesses of his pontificate, cliques, religious doubts and Pope Francis.It is “written in an easy style and is rich in anecdotes”, the newspaper says, and refers to many facts and stories which anyone familiar with Benedict and his pontificate will probably already be aware of.For instance, he discusses how much his election as Pope burdened him and how he knew precisely the dark side of the Church having been prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.Pedophile priests, murky finances and corruption were the “filth” in the Church which he wanted to eliminate, but they were hard to get rid of. "Of course I wanted to do more than I could," the Pope Emeritus says. During his pontificate, hundreds of pedophile priests were dismissed and he says he smashed a homosexual network in the Vatican. "Whether that has formed again, I do not know," he says.He goes on to say that he underestimated the political significance of his 2006 Regensburg speech which upset much of the Muslim world, but says Vatican officials gave him poor advice ahead of his decision in 2010 to lift the excommunication on Bishop Richard Williamson. He later learned that the former SSPX bishop had denied the extent of the Holocaust — a revelation that led to a “huge propaganda campaign” being “unleashed against me,” he says. The former Archbishop of Munich makes some strong judgments about the Catholic Church in Germany, long criticized for being wealthy but lacking faith. He complains about "a well-established and highly paid Catholicism" there, along with an "over dependence on unholy bureaucracy", a "theorization of faith" and "lack of a living dynamism."The newspaper report says Benedict is more gentle when he talks about Francis. He says his successor’s election completely surprised him, and initially unsettled him, but cordial dealings with him have since made him happy. Francis emphasizes different things, but there are no contradictions., he believes. In an interview this week in Die Zeit, Seewald said Benedict “was in love as a student, and it was very serious" and that it was a “a serious problem for him.”“In the years after the war, there were female students for the first time. He was a very smart guy, a good-looking young man, an aesthete, who wrote poetry and read Hermann Hesse ... He had an impact on women and was impacted by them," Seewald said, adding that the former pontiff's vow of celibacy had been a tough decision for him.The German author, who has written several well known books already with Joseph Ratzinger, including “Light of the World” when Benedict was Pope, said he had the impression Benedict “lived in prayer and for prayer,” but that he was very interested in the news."The Italian news was an imperative for him. His brother once thought that Joseph Ratzinger was a news addict," Seewald says in the interview, adding that he was also a big fan of "Don Camillo and Peppone," a series of films about an Italian Catholic priest and a communist town mayor.Benedict felt mentally and physically drained from his duties as the head of the Church, Seewald said, but did not quit for political reasons. The German author said that Benedict did not expect to live very long after his resignation, but a certain kind of resilience always kept him going."Ratzinger has an ability to bounce back," the author said. "One day you think, this was the last visit. The next time you realize he has gathered new strength."
Sep 8 16 8:07 AM
In a new book-length interview, presumably his last, with German journalist Peter Seewald, emeritus Pope Benedict XVI projects a humility rare for any world leader by candidly conceding that government was not his strong suit, despite the fact that he actually authored historic reforms. In a new book-length interview, presumably his last, with German Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI projects a humility rare for any world leader by candidly conceding that government was not his strong suit, despite the fact that he actually authored historic reforms.Pope Francis is celebrated for his humility, and rightly so. This is, after all the pontiff who began his reign by kneeling and asking the crowd in St. Peter’s Square to pray for him before he delivered a formal blessing, who returned to a Rome residence to pay his own bill and pack his own bag, and who declined to live in the sumptuous papal apartments.(Here comes the "but" - mandatory now that Crux has new conservative paymasters) However, there’s also a sense in which Pope Francis is a strong personality, comfortable in command, and possessing a virtually unwavering confidence in the correctness of his own judgments. That’s far from arrogance, of course, but for those who watch him in action, there’s never any doubt about who’s in charge.If you want a pope filled with a sense of his own limitations and imperfections - not haunted by them, but also remarkably open in acknowledging why they may have made him unsuited to lead, at least for very long - then the man you’re really looking for is Benedict XVI. ( Few doubted Benedict's humility. The same can not be said of his "aides" who were, and are, out of control)We got another reminder of the point on Thursday, with the release of excerpts from a new interview book with Benedict XVI by German journalist Peter Seewald, with whom he’s collaborated several times in the past. Titled “Final Conversations,” portions of the book were published Thursday in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera and German weekly Die Zeit and daily Bild.While insisting that he was not pressured by anyone to resign the papacy in February 2013, and that it was his own free decision, Benedict concedes that the demands of running a complex religious multi-national occasionally exceeded what he perceived, anyway, as his capacities.“My weak point perhaps is a lack of resolve in governing and making decisions,” he said. “Here, in reality, I am more a professor, one who reflects and meditates on spiritual questions. Practical governance was not my forte, and this certainly was a weakness.”Just as a thought exercise, one might profitably reflect on how many former titans of the earth, whether presidents or prime ministers, corporate CEOs or founders of social movements, would be willing to confess in an interview they would surely understand to be their last, that they were actually not particularly suited to do the thing they had been put in leadership to do.Modestly, Benedict goes on to say that while governance may not have been his strong suit, he cannot think of himself as a total flop.“But I don’t see myself as a failure. For eight years I did my service,” he said, and many people found a new path to their faith.In all honesty, Benedict easily could have fended off these challenges in an entirely different way. Yes, there were obvious failures of governance during his eight-year reign, such as the disastrous mishandling of the rehabilitation of a Holocaust-denying bishop and the Vatican leaks affair that culminated in the arrest, conviction and eventual pardon of his own butler.Yet for every such breakdown, there was also a compelling success.For instance, it’s a fact of history that Benedict, both before and after his election to the papacy, was the Vatican’s chief reformer on the single most chronic source of heartache for the Catholic Church in the last two decades, which is the clerical sexual abuse scandals. ( But a pity Maciel was allowed to retain his priestly orders)It was Benedict, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who pushed through aggressive new rules under St. Pope John Paul II that expedited the removal of abusers from the priesthood, and Benedict as pope who expelled more than 400 abusers in his final two years as pope alone - representing, for the record, more than one percent of the total number of Catholic priests worldwide in 24 months.It was also Benedict XVI who launched historic reforms in terms of Vatican money management, including the audacious and essentially unprecedented decision to subject the Vatican to outside secular inspection in the form of the Moneyval process, referring to the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering agency.A leader with that track record might well be inclined to mount a defense of his legacy, to testily insist that history will be more kind than his contemporaries, and so on. Instead, Benedict is apparently content to acknowledge that his successor, Pope Francis, is more a man of government, to celebrate his success, and to leave it at that. (Which conservatives cannot stomac. For them. anything positive Francis does has to have its roots elsewhere)Benedict did offer one more defense of himself in the book, which is to claim that he dismantled a so-called “gay lobby” within the Vatican, but even then he minimized the significance of it, claiming that it was a tiny constituency and that anyway it was identified by a commission of cardinals rather than by him.In other words, this is simply not the testament of a leader whose primary concern is his own reputation or legacy, but rather the health of the Church to which he dedicated his life.Benedict told Seewald that he passes his days now in part preparing for his last, definitive meeting with his maker.“The important thing isn’t imagining it, but living with the knowledge that all our lives are headed toward this encounter,” he said.Of course, no one knows when that encounter for Benedict may come, but when it does, it seems clear from his new book that he won’t be carrying the sin of undue pride on his shoulders.
Sep 9 16 5:44 AM
As he prays in his house in the Vatican Gardens and, especially, as he ages, retired Pope Benedict XVI said he finds many Scripture passages “more challenging in their greatness and gravity.”Retirement has given the 89-year-old Pope Benedict what he describes as the gift of silence to enter more deeply into prayer, especially with the Psalms and the writings of early church theologians, but the inevitable approach of death also makes his failings and God’s judgment a more pressing concern, he said.“Despite all the confidence I have that the loving God cannot forsake me, the closer you come to his face, the more intensely you feel how much you have done wrong,” the retired pope told Peter Seewald, a German writer.Pope Benedict’s reflections on his life and his discussion of how his prayer life has changed as he ages are included in Seewald’s new book-length interview, “Last Testament,” which will be released in English by Bloomsbury in November. The German and Italian editions were in bookstores Sept. 9.“I can now pray the breviary deeply and slowly,” the retired pope said, “and thereby deepen my friendship with the Psalms, with the Fathers” of the church.He said he uses a whole week to prepare his Sunday homily for his small household, thinking about the Scripture readings, allowing his thoughts to “mature slowly, so I can sound out a text from many different angles: What is it saying to me? What is it saying to the people here in the monastery?”Pope Benedict listed four current favorite prayers — three of which were written by Jesuits:— The “Suscipe” of St. Ignatius of Loyola, which begins: “Take, Lord, receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it.”— A prayer from St. Francis Xavier: “I do not love you because you can give me paradise or condemn me to hell, but because you are my God.”— St. Nicholas of Flue’s “Take me as I am.”— And the General Prayer composed in German by St. Peter Canisius, which begins: “Almighty and eternal God, Lord, heavenly Father. Look with the eyes of your gratuitous mercy at our sorrow, misery and distress; have mercy on all Christian believers.”Pope Benedict, who knew and continues to admire the work of Father Romano Guardini, said he agreed with an affirmation the priest made, “In old age, it does not get easier, but more difficult.”“There is something true in it,” he said. “On the one hand, in old age you are more deeply practiced, so to speak. Life has taken its shape. The fundamental decisions have been made.”But at the same time, the pope said, “one feels the difficulties of life’s questions more deeply; one feels the weight of today’s godlessness, the weight of the absence of faith, which goes deep into the church. But then one also feels the greatness of Jesus Christ’s words, which evade interpretation more often than before.”Although sometimes comforted by new insights, he said he recognizes how “the depths of the word (of God) are never fully plumbed. And some words of wrath, of rejection, of the threat of judgment certainly become more mysterious and grave and awesome than before.”
Sep 9 16 5:57 AM
Benedict says he did not expect papacy, accepted it as duty to cardinalsROME - Retired Pope Benedict XVI says he did not expect to be elected to lead the global Catholic church following the 2005 death of his predecessor John Paul II but felt compelled to accept the papacy as a duty to the cardinals who voted for him in conclave.In a new book-length interview being published in Italy Friday, the retired pontiff states that while he had been mentioned as a candidate for the papacy after John Paul’s 26-year reign, he dismissed those rumors and thought himself too old for the office.Recalling his age and feeling at the time, Benedict states: “I was now 78-years-old, which was of course reassuring. If the bishops stop at 75, you cannot hoist a 78-year-old onto the chair of Peter.”Benedict’s revelation of his mindset at his election to the papacy is one of many striking moments in the book, to be published in the U.S. Nov. 3 by Bloomsbury under the title Last Testament: In His Own Words.“Of course I’d been mentioned a lot beforehand,” the retired pope continues. “But I really wasn’t able to take it seriously. I thought it couldn’t happen; that it was unreasonable.”Benedict says that as the cardinals gathered in conclave at the Vatican to elect John Paul’s successor many had “exhorted the one who would be elected, so to speak, saying he must -- even if he doesn’t feel up to taking the cross upon himself -- submit himself to the two-thirds majority, and see that decision as a sign.”“This is his inner duty,” he states. “It is worked out with so much gravity and dignity that I believed, if the majority of the cardinals really elect me, the Lord is electing me, and then I must accept it.”The book is based on conversations Benedict had with German journalist Peter Seewald, with whom he also published a book-length interview during his papacy. In his introduction to the volume, Seewald says the interviews were conducted “shortly before and after” Benedict’s 2013 resignation and that the retired pope was given final approval over the text. (Yes, but I wouldn't be surprised if the "filter" read through the galleys as well.)Some of the material from the book was released in Italy Thursday, with excerpts being printed in the Corriere della Sera newspaper.In the full set of conversations, Benedict tells Seewald that while he considered not accepting his election that “I simply knew then, somehow, that I couldn’t just say no.” He repeats earlier remarks that the votes made by cardinals for his election felt to him “like a guillotine.”No John Paul IIIThe retired pope also states that he never considered taking the name John Paul III.“I felt that would be inappropriate, because a standard had been set there which I couldn’t match,” Benedict says. “I could not be a John Paul III. I was a different character, cut from a different cloth. I had a different sort of charisma, or rather a non-charisma.” (Oh, I don't know ... I met the beatific Padre Benedetto some years ago, before the scandals - and the heartbreaks - began. He has a gentle charm all his own, the sweetest, most loving smile, and a gaze so bright it could only be lit by a truly formidable intellect. He is also, in old age, a man with the kind of noble, dignified yet ascetic handsomeness one sees in true gentlemen-of-the-old-school and great men of the Church.)Benedict says that he thought his pontificate would be a short one.“I did think that I might not have that much strength,” Benedict states. “I could not start any long-term things.”“One has to make do with what time one has,” he continues. “I was conscious that my task was of another kind: that I must try above all else to show what faith means in the contemporary world, and further, to highlight the centrality of faith in God, and give people the courage to have faith, courage to live concretely in the world with faith.”Asked about the most difficult moments of the first days of his pontificate, Benedict takes a humorous note.“I had great difficulty with the cufflinks,” he says, mentioning that he rarely wore them before his election. “They even got me quite annoyed, so I thought that whoever invented them must be in the depths of purgatory.” (I can almost see Padre Benedetto chuckling as he said this.)Seewald then takes Benedict through some of the most contentious moments of his papacy, asking for his comment on some of the scandals that were brought to light from 2005-13.Clergy Sex AbuseIn response to a question on his handling of clergy sexual abuse, the former pope refers to steps he took to root out abusive priests during his time as the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict, led that congregation from 1981 until his papal election.“I immediately took hold of matters when they came to me,” Benedict states. “At first the Congregation for the Clergy had claimed jurisdiction. But I saw that the strict line on it which was necessary would not be taken, and I brought it under the CDF’s remit.”“I was aware that it was a very difficult task, and that we would experience criticism,” he continues. “But I also knew that we had people who were better able to master it. The fact that the CDF were dealing with it would also be a signal that this task has the highest priority for the Church.”Asked if John Paul II had handled the matter vigorously enough, Benedict replies: “It always depends on the information.”“When he was sufficiently informed and saw what was going on, he was wholly convinced that one must tackle it energetically,” states Benedict. “Under the existing church law it was not possible to dole out the most severe punishments. I said then that we need new amendments. The Pope immediately gave me a free rein on this. We created new legal norms and structures, just so the issue could be dealt with.”VatileaksBenedict also speaks about the so-called Vatileaks scandal, where his papal butler, Paolo Gabriele, was eventually found guilty of leaking confidential documents.“The Paolo Gabriele affair was a disastrous business,” says the retired pope. “But first, I was not to blame – he was checked by the authorities and put in post by them – and second, one has to reckon with such things in human beings. I am not aware of any failures on my part.” (No one ever blamed Padre Benedetto for Gabriele's actions, and nor do I. Rather, I think the person to be blamed is the one who had immediate supervision over Gabriele, and who should have supervised him more closely. How the butler, whose desk was in the immediate vicinity of this person's own desk, managed to spirit away or copy so many documents under this person's nose speaks volumes of the laxity of this person's supervision over Gabriele, and ultimately, of his negligence and incompetence. Had I been in the Pope's shoes, I would have relieved this person of his position, immediately.)“It was simply unintelligible to me,” he continues later. “Even when I see the person I can’t understand how someone would want to do something like that. What can have been expected from it. I cannot penetrate this psychology.”Addressing his 2013 resignation, Benedict says he made his mind up to resign at some point around August 2012. He says his March 2012 visit to Mexico and Cuba “had really taken it out of me” but that he initially thought he would continue as pontiff into 2014.After the World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was moved up from 2014 to 2013, Benedict says he decided he would resign before that event.Just before reading aloud the Latin declaration of his resignation to cardinals and bishops at the Vatican on Feb. 11, 2013, the retired pope says he asked himself: “What will mankind be saying as I stand there?”“To the general public, of course, it was a new and tremendous step, which is how I saw it,” he continues. “But I had wrestled with it inwardly the whole time, so my inward self was to some extent already weathered. In this sense it was not a day of particular suffering for me.”On Resignation: ‘Even a father’s role stops’Benedict also answers critics who might say the effects of aging are not sufficient reason for a pope to resign.“The Pope must do concrete things, must keep the whole situation in his sights, must know which priorities to set, and so on,” he states. “This ranges from receiving heads of state, receiving bishops – with whom one must be able to enter into a deeply intimate conversation – to the decisions which come each day.”“Even if you say a few of these things can be struck off, there remain so many things which are essential, that, if the capability to do them is no longer there – for me anyway; someone else might see it otherwise – now’s the time to free up the chair,” he continues.Benedict also responds to those who say his action “secularized” the papal office.“To that I must reply: even a father’s role stops,” says the retired pope. “Of course a father does not stop being father, but he is relieved of concrete responsibility. He remains a father in a deep, inward sense, in a particular relationship which has responsibility, but not with day-to-day tasks as such. It was also this way for bishops.”“I think it is also clear that the Pope is no superman and his mere existence is not sufficient to conduct his role, rather he likewise exercises a function,” he continues. “If he steps down, he remains in an inner sense within the responsibility he took on, but not in the function. In this respect one comes to understand that the office of the Pope has lost none of its greatness, even if the humanity of the office is perhaps becoming more clearly evident.”No Break with Pope FrancisBenedict also makes clear that he sees no “break” between his pontificate and that of his successor, Pope Francis.“If one isolates things, takes them out of context, one can construct opposites, but not if one looks at the whole,” says the retired pope. “There may be a different emphasis, of course, but no opposition.”The retired pontiff also praises Francis’ 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”).“It is not a short text, but it is a beautiful one, and grippingly written,” he says. “Certainly not all of it by himself, but much of it is very personal.”In talking about the duties of the papacy, Benedict also offers his impressions of several world leaders.World LeadersU.S. President Barack Obama, he says, is “a great politician, of course, who knows what it takes to be successful, and has certain ideas that we cannot share, but he was not only a tactician to me, but certainly a reflective man too.”“I felt that he sought the meeting between us, and that he listened,” says Benedict.Russian President Vladimir Putin, he says, is “very interesting.”“I certainly believe that he is – a man of power of course – somehow affected by the necessity of faith,” states Benedict. “He is a realist. He sees how Russia suffers from the destruction of morality.”“Even as a patriot, as someone who wants Russia to have great power again, he sees that the destruction of Christianity threatens to destroy Russia,” the retired pope continues. “A human being needs God, he sees that quite evidently, and he is certainly affected by it inwardly as well.”Among other tidbits in the book, Benedict reveals several prayers he considers favorites and says frequently. Three, rather interestingly, were authored by Jesuits: St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, and St. Peter Canisius.Benedict calls Canisius’ so-called “general prayer” something that is “unchangingly pertinent and beautiful.”
Sep 9 16 9:52 AM
Sep 9 16 2:59 PM
Sep 10 16 12:48 AM
Peter Seewald’s book-length interview with Benedict XVI titled “Last Conversations” (the title is peremptory but never say never seeing as though this is the fourth in this successful series), in bookstores today, contains a number of discussions held in different points in time. Some between 2010 and 2013, when Ratzinger was still Pope and others in the months following his resignation. Once again, having read the more than 630 questions and answers contained in the volume, the German journalist deserves praise for managing better than anybody else to show readers the “real” Ratzinger. A theologian and Pope who breaks the stereotypes created by so-called Ratzingerians, from those who have sought to pen him into the conservative or traditionalist circles, to those who pathologically and paroxysmally continue to use him to discredit his successor, Francis. (Yes, and in my opinion that includes someone who unfortunately lives in his house house and manages his life) One example that has so far escaped the book’s reviewers is to do with the Institute for Works of Religion. One particular school of thought made it look as though the scandalous removal from office of the then president Ettore Gotti Tedeschi (nominated in 2009 right in the midst of Ratzinger’s pontificate), which happened through questionable – to say the least – means was part of a conspiracy plotted by the Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. Benedict XVI had apparently been unable to react to this decision and was forced to go along with it. But on page 209 of the book-length interview with Seewald, the Pope Emeritus without hesitation responds that he saw the IOR as a huge question mark right from the start and that he tried to reform it. He added that such changes could not happen in the blink of an eye because the whole operation took some getting to grips with. It was important, he says, that the old management was removed from office, as renewal was needed and that for many reasons he felt it was right that the next leadership was not Italian. Mr. Freyberg was an excellent solution he observes. The journalist asks Ratzinger whether it was his idea, to which he responds: “Yes”. Speaking of his younger years in another part of the interview, Benedict XVI says his generation were progressivists, they wanted to renew and liven up theology and the Church along with it. He remarks that they were lucky because they lived in a time when new opportunities were opening up spurred by the young people’s movement and the liturgical movement. They wanted the Church to move forward and were convinced that that was the way to rejuvenate it. All of them felt a sort of disdain for the 19th century, for the new Gothic style and those slightly kitsch images and statues that were in vogue at the time; for the excessive sentimentalism of the time, which was a bit limited and a bit kitsch too. Ratzinger says they wanted to leave this behind and usher in a new phase of worship. This process of renewal began with the liturgy, which regained its sobriety and original prominence. But the Pope Emeritus also distances himself from those, particularly in the traditionalist world, who turned him into a herald of the fixity of the old rite. Ratzinger points out how important it was that he created a new prayer for the Good Friday rite in the old Missal, deeming the anti-Jewish prayer unfit for use. In answer to another question, he says the rite needs to evolve and this is why it was reformed but identity must be preserved. Ratzinger says he is happy with Council reforms when these are addressed with honesty but that many odd ideas and destructive interpretations had spread and these had to be stopped. He denies claims that communion in the hand is an invalid practice, adding that communion received on the tongue is not obligatory and that he practices both forms. Humble as ever, Benedict XVI calmly answers Seewald’s questions about the conspiracies and behind-the-scenes events linked to his resignation, obscured by those who - with increasing malice and a pathological more than schismatic excess of hatred - make it their daily mission to sling mud at his successor. In doing so, they cling onto a false and distorted image of Ratzinger, affirming that he was unfairly pressured into resigning by goodness knows what diabolical powers.In the interview, the Pope Emeritus comments on the absurdity of all of this, dismissing these musings as something out of a fantasy-thriller and those who corroborate such theories as pseudo-seers. He stresses that no one tried to blackmail him and that he would never have stood for it. Had they tried to do so, he says, he would not have stepped down because a Pope is not supposed to resign when under pressure. Nor is it true, he adds, that he felt disappointed, on the contrary, he was thankful for the fact that he felt a sense of peace similar to the kind one feels when one overcomes a difficulty. He felt the same peace of mind one feels when one knows they are leaving the helm in capable hands. His final words are yet another illustration of his profound faith. Regarding the unexpected election of the first ever Latin American Pope, Benedict XVI says it shows the Church is moving forward, it is dynamic, open, prospective new developments before it. It is not square-minded, it is full of surprises and is intrinsically capable of constant renewal. It is beautiful and encouraging, he says, that the unexpected can occur in our day and age, showing that the Church is alive and brimming with new possibilities. Thanks to the intellectual honesty of the interviewer and interviewee, every page of this book builds an image of Ratzinger that is completely the opposite to what he has been made out to be by the so-called “Ratzingerians”. These are the same individuals who attacked him on blogs and websites during his pontificate, claiming he was too “conciliar” or criticising him for going to Assisi to pray with other religious leaders, following in the footsteps of his holy predecessor.
Sep 10 16 1:30 AM
In this riveting conversation with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church in Germany is presented less than favorably and criticized for its excessive bureaucracy. Benedict also casts doubt on the current church tax system in Germany, saying the "automatic excommunication of those who don't pay is, in my mind, untenable."Now 89 years old, Benedict stepped down as pope on February 28, 2013. His thoughts on the above topics were obtained by the German journalist Peter Seewald, with whom he has enjoyed a rapport since his days as the German cleric Joseph Ratzinger. For the 62-year-old journalist and author, Benedict XVI marks the "end of an era."Released on Friday in German, " Letzte Gespräche" (Final Conversations) is something new. Published by Droemer & Knaur the book presents a man looking back on his pontificate and on the man who has followed him: Jorge Mario Bergoglio, or Pope Francis, as he is now called - a choice that came as a surprise to Benedict. "Last Testament," the English version of the book, is scheduled for publication in November.The book is worthy spiritual reading; some of it even seems highly self-critical for a pope - or critical of the Roman Curia, at least. Benedict, who had ascended to archbishop in Germany, has dramatically distanced himself from the official Catholic Church in his home country.The account is not exactly papal in nature. Until Benedict's retirement in 2013, he had come across as shy and preferred professionally polished remarks. His successor, Francis, has affected more direct and heartfelt interaction.Upon announcing his retirement, Benedict said he wanted to continue to "serve God's holy church with all his heart through a life of prayer." Close confidants such as Rudolf Voderholzer, the bishop of Regensburg, had thought that, when it came to Benedict's thoughts, "not a word could be published." They were mistaken.In the new book, Benedict airs the thoughts and considerations that led to his resignation. He says it had nothing to do with blackmail or the whistleblowing that led to the Vatileaks scandal. Rather, he speaks of "many difficulties during this time" - a reference to revelations about the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy and the controversy that followed his 2009 lifting of the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson, a Holocaust denier.Benedict sees the Williamson affair as a "giant propaganda campaign" against him. He also speaks of a "gay lobby" in the Vatican, which Pope Francis, too, mentioned just months after his election."It was small - four or five people maybe," Benedict says. "If they've rebuilt themselves, I can't say. In any case, such things don't abound."The scandals, however, were fodder for a growing indifference to faith, at least in Europe. Benedict says Europe is becoming "newly evangelized from the outside." Referring to Francis, he added: "Something fresh for the church, a new cheerfulness, new charisma that speaks to people - this is very good."Politically, Benedict is candid about his qualms with the Catholic Church in his native land. "Germany has an established and well-furnished Catholicism, often with employed Catholics who handle the church like a labor union," he says. "For them, the church is simply the employer."Pope books are popular. This is Seewald's fourth interview book in 20 years with Ratzinger. The publisher has made an initial order of 50,000 copies, with translations forthcoming for Brazilian, Croatian, French, Hungarian, Italian, Lebanese, Polish, Spanish, British, Portuguese and Slovakian readers.Much has also been published about Francis in his just-over-three-year papacy, and the pope has often also found a direct audience for his own writings. Unlike Benedict's encyclicals "Love" and "Hope," which were composed in a style far above other encyclicals and therefore less widely read, there is a trend toward a modern style more suitable for general consumption.#In "Final Conversations," Seewald has a final question: "Where was love in your life? Did you feel it deeply or was it merely theoretical?""No, no," Benedict replies. "You can't talk about what you haven't felt." He mentions his parents and siblings. "I don't want to get into private details," he says. "It moves me in so many different ways."That much is obvious - which the author didn't make obvious enough. (He's saving that bit for the biography that will keep the Ratzinger pay cheques coming) "There was an infatuation during his course of studies that was very serious," Seewald said in an interview about the book. "It was difficult for him. He didn't take celibacy lightly."Some statements in the book suggest that Benedict feels that he is approaching the end of his life. He says he would like the words "worker for truth" on his gravestone - a reference to the third Johannine epistle of the New Testament. "The truth touches us," Benedict says. "We try to be guided by this contact."
Sep 12 16 11:31 AM
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