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Pope Emeritus claims “People want to switch off my voice”

By Sarah Mac Donald - 05 May, 2020

In a newly published biography, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has claimed some people want to silence him and he also dismissed suggestions that he has interfered in church debates since his resignation in 2013.

The 1,200 page biography in German is titled ‘Benedikt XVI: Ein Leben’ (Benedict XVI: A Life).

It was  written by the journalist and best-selling German author Peter Seewald, who collaborated previously with the retired pope on several bestselling books including ‘Light of the World’.

The new biography was released in German on Monday. The retired pope’s comments come in the last chapter of the book.

German Catholic news agency KNA reports that the Pope Emeritus, who was interviewed in autumn 2018 by Seewald, strongly rejects accusations of interfering in church debates claiming this is a “malicious distortion of the truth.”

According to KNA the 93-year-old also said there were “reasons why people just want to switch off my voice.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Benedict XVI warns that the Church is threatened by a “worldwide dictatorship of seemingly humanist ideologies” and he cites same-sex marriage, abortion and the “creation of humans in the laboratory” as examples of this.

“Modern society is in the process of formulating an anti-Christian creed, and resisting this creed is punished by social excommunication,” the former head of the CDF asserts.

Commenting on the state of the church in the 21st century he said, “Events have shown by now that the crisis of faith has above all led to a crisis of Christian existence.”

Elsewhere in the interview, which had not been published before, the former pope said he has written a spiritual testament but this will not be published until after his death. The retired pope, who was in office between 2005-2013, did not comment on its contents.

Speaking about his shock resignation in 2013, he denied that it was because of corruption in the Vatican or the Vatileaks scandal.

Instead, he said it had become increasingly clear to him that, in addition to possible dementia, “other forms of insufficient ability to hold office properly are also possible.”

In this context, Pope Benedict revealed that, like Ss Paul VI and John Paul II, he had signed a conditional declaration of resignation “in the event of illness that rendered the proper performance of duties impossible.”

He told Seewald that he did this “relatively early” in his pontificate.

Of the office of the pope emeritus which he created, Benedict XVI said it should be compared to that of a bishop who had retired for age reasons.

He stressed that this legal status could also be applied to the bishop of Rome and this prevented “any notion of a coexistence of two popes: a diocese can have only one incumbent. At the same time, it expresses a spiritual bond that can never be taken away,” he said.

Of his relationship with his successor, Pope Francis, he said he thanked God that the “warm-hearted devotion of Pope Francis” enabled him to implement the idea of a pope emeritus. Since their meeting in Castel Gandolfo in 2013, he said, there has been a personal friendship that has “not only remained but grown.”

Pope Benedict XVI with Fr Georg Gänswein.

On 16 April Benedict XVI celebrated his 93rd birthday in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions he did not receive any visitors.

Usually on his birthday, the retired pope is joined by his older brother, Msgr Georg Ratzinger, who turned 96 in January. But his personal secretary Archbishop Georg Ganswein told Vatican News that, this year, the two spoke on the phone.

Peter Seewald who wrote the new biography had intended to give it to the pope emeritus in person ahead of publication but the pandemic made that impossible, according to Archbishop Ganswein.

The retired pope was born 16 April 1927 in the Bavarian town of Marktl am Inn and was ordained to the priesthood in 1951. Before his election as pope in 2005, succeeding St John Paul II, he served for 24 years as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Pope Benedict stunned the world in 2013 when he announced that he would step down, becoming the first pope in almost 600 years to resign.

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