Vatican Corner 10-28-18

The 2013 resignation of Pope Benedict XVI was in the news again with the leaking to the press of 2 private lefters which appeared in the German newspaper Bild on Sept. 20, 2018. The both letters written by retired pope emeritus Benedict in Nov., 2017 were to Cardinal Walter Brandmüller the president emeritus of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, and who was a firm supporter of Benedict during his papacy. Brandmüller has since become the most vocal critic of Benedict’s decision to resign and he is also one of the four cardinals who has openly disagreed and challenged Pope Francis on his apostolic exhortation – Amoris Laetitia regarding Reconciliation and the Eucharist for divorced couples who have remarried civilly. Brandmüller and other conservative Catholics wish Benedict was still Pope and are angry with his decision to step down which they say has thrown the Church into crisis. In the leaked letters Benedict defends his abdication and warns that continued anger at his decision to resign risks undermining the papal office. Benedict said he understood “the deep seated pain” the end of his papacy caused the cardinal and others, “however for some people and – it seems to me – also for you, the pain has turned into an anger that no longer merely concerns my resignation, but increasingly also my person and my papacy as a whole.” Benedict fears that his resignation has stained his entire pontificate. Benedict says “In this manner a pontificate is being devalued and fused into a sadness about the situation of the Church today.” Benedict is implying that Brandmüller’s distress over Pope Francis should not lead him and like-minded Catholics to the devaluing of Benedict’s entire pontificate. Cardinal Brandmüller has criticized Benedict’s use of the title ‘pope emeritus,’ and Benedict wrote that he was trying to avoid the impression that there were two popes. Benedict wrote that as ‘pope emeritus’, “I tried to create a situation in which I am absolutely not accessible to the media and in which it is completely clear that there is only one pope.” He said he could not revert back to being a cardinal, because that would involve him more in ongoing Church affairs, to the detriment of his successor. Benedict ended one lefter writing “let us pray – that the Lord may come to the aid of his Church. With my Apostolic blessing I am Your Benedict XVI