A personal letter of Benedict XVI on the continuity with the pontificate of Pope Francis was made public by the Prefect of the Secretariat for Communication, Monsignor Dario Edoardo Vigano, who received it on the occasion of the presentation of the ‘Theology of Pope Francis’ collection, published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana (LEV), which took place Monday in the course of a press conference at Rome in the Marconi Hall of the Palazzo Pio.
This week, the letter was published by the Vatican in its entirety. Here is a Zenit working translation of the letter:
February 7, 2018
Most Reverend Lord
Monsignor Dario Edoardo Vigano
Prefect of the Secretariat for Communication
00120 Vatican City
Most Reverend Monsignor,
Thank you very much for your kind letter of January 12 and for the attached gift of eleven small volumes edited by Roberto Repole. I applaud this initiative, which intends to oppose and react to the foolish prejudice by which Pope Francis is only a practical man bereft of particular theological or philosophical formation, whereas I was only a theoretician of theology, who little understood the concrete life of a Christian today. The small volumes rightly show that Pope Francis is a man of profound philosophical and theological formation and, therefore, help to see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, although with all the differences of style and temperament.
However, I do not feel like writing on them “a brief and dense theological page.” In all my life it was always clear that I have written and have expressed myself only on books that I have truly read. Unfortunately, also for physical reasons, I am unable to read the eleven small volumes in the near future, all the more so as other commitments await me, which I have already assumed.
Only as an aside I would like to note my surprise for the fact that, figuring among the authors is also Professor Hunermann, who during my pontificate came to light for having headed anti-papal initiatives. He took part significantly in the release of the “Kolner Erklarung,” which, in relation to the encyclical “Veritatis splendor,” attacked virulently the magisterial authority of the Pope, especially on questions of Moral Theology. Also the “Europaische Theologengesellschaft,” which he founded, was thought by him initially as an organization in opposition to the papal magisterium. Then the ecclesial thinking of many theologians blocked this orientation, rendering that organization a regular meeting instrument among theologians.
I am certain that there will be understanding for my denial and I greet you cordially,
(Signed) Benedict XVI