Pope Emeritus Wrote Critique of Papal Interview at Francis' Request

Benedict XVI Commented on Controversial La Civilta Cattolica Interview, Secretary Reveals

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Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s private secretary, has disclosed that Pope Francis asked his predecessor to write down a critique of the interview he gave the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica last August.

The German archbishop, who is also Prefect of the Papal Household under Pope Francis, told the German television channel ZDF over the weekend that, after the interview was published in September, the Pope gave him the interview, instructing him to take it to Benedict XVI so he could “read it and write down any criticism he may have.”

The Pope Emeritus “did his homework,” Archbishop Gänswein continued. “He read it and, in accordance with his successor’s request, he did indeed offer some thoughts and some remarks on certain comments or certain questions on which he thought something additional could perhaps be said in another context.»

Benedict XVI wrote “four pages”, the archbishop said, but added he wouldn’t divulge the comments, simply saying “they were certainly interesting.”

The interview drew controversy, especially over the Pope’s comments on abortion, contraception and same-sex ‘marriage’ about which he said «it is not necessary» to be talking «all the time.»   

Father Antonio Spadaro, who conducted the interview, told AP Tuesday that he gave the first printed copy of the interview to Francis on the day it was published. Francis then gave that version to Benedict to critique.

Archbishop Gänswein said Francis and Benedict “have a very good relationship,” adding that “clearly they are in accordance with regard to the substance.

“There is a marked and visible difference with regard to presentation, to gestures, in the way Pope Francis approaches people,” he said. “It’s a difference that’s not worse or better, it’s simply a difference that suits his disposition. Each Pope brings his character to the papacy. A certain character is bestowed by grace, and if the Lord has given him this character, we can only say Deo gratias [thanks be to God].”

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