The death of Benedict XVI on December 31, a fierce crossfire broke out between the hostile factions in the church, culminating in the unusual publication of a treatise by his personal secretary, Georg Ganswein. A juicy collection of the previously untold moments and views of the pope emeritus, the post came at a commercially perfect time, but a bit raunchy given the nearness of death. The author also gave several interviews in which he criticized some of Francisco’s positions and assured Benedict XVI. was “very upset” when he learned of the current Pope’s decision to ban the Latin Mass for the pre-conciliar rite. The pope responded for the first time that he was at 10,000 feet on the plane that was supposed to take him back to Rome from South Sudan. He did it without the usual Vatican niceties. “That he was upset is a Chinese fairy tale,” he launched at the traditional press conference on the papal plane.
Francisco, angered by the attacks on the conservative sector following the death of the pope emeritus, was also outspoken about last month’s events. “His death was exploited by people who wanted to bring water to his mill. The people who exploit such a good man, a Holy Father of God… These people have no ethics: they are party people, not church people. The trend towards party theology can be seen everywhere. But I’m putting those things aside because they’re not going to thrive, they’re going to collapse under their own weight like the rest of the history of the church,” he told reporters. In addition to Ganswein’s book, that of Cardinal Müller, former Prefect for the Doctrine of the Faith and declared opponent of the Pope, has just been published. It also criticizes some theological positions similar to those of Benedict XVI.
Francisco also gave details of the complicity relationship he had with his predecessor and how he always supported him in difficult moments or doubts, contesting the version offered by his opponents. “I was able to talk to him about everything and exchange ideas. And he was always by my side and supported me. If he had any trouble he told me and there were no problems. I once spoke about gay marriage. I said it is a sacrament and we cannot administer a sacrament, but one way is to ensure their welfare through civil partnership laws. So someone went through a friend to Benedict XVI to denounce me. Benedict wasn’t afraid, he called four high-profile theological cardinals and told them, ‘Explain that to me.’ They explained it to him, and that’s how the story ended. It is an anecdote to see how Benedikto moved when there was a complaint. I consulted him for some decisions and he always agreed.
Regarding homosexuality, Francisco also expanded on some words he uttered in a recent interview with the AP news agency, in which he criticized the countries that criminalize it, despite clinging to the idea that it is a sin. This time he went further and asserted that “condemning a homosexual person is a sin”. “The math is more or less 50 countries are doing it one way or another [castigar la homosexualidad]. And about 10 involve the death penalty. That’s not fair. People with a homosexual inclination are children of God; God loves them and accompanies them. Criminalizing people with homosexual tendencies is an injustice.”
“Weeds Never Die”
Francisco also cleared some doubts about his health and the possibility of a near retirement following in Benedict XVI’s footsteps. could occur when he made the decision to retire in 2013. “Weeds never die,” he joked. “I’m not like I was at the beginning of the pontificate. That pesky knee, but little by little it’s getting better. We’ll see.” The pope reassured that he was fine and that he had trips planned for next year, including one to India and another to Mongolia by the end of 2023.
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In addition, Francis insisted on his intention to travel to Ukraine and meet with the Kyiv government, assuming it could be a double trip, stopping in Moscow, to do the same with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Vatican has always been very careful not to make diplomatic gestures that could put it in a compromising position when it comes to claiming a mediating role.
In any case, the perspective that the Pope envisages, especially with regard to his travels, all at once eliminates the rumors of a possible resignation after the death of Benedict XVI. the way is clear. Apart from his knee problems, as he said himself in his last interviews, the pope is fine. “The church is ruled with the head, not the knees,” he explained in a recent interview.
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