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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI greets Pope Francis at the conclusion of a consistory at which Pope Francis created 19 new cardinals in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Feb. 22. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

In a column published at Vatican Insider, Andrea Tornielli quotes from a letter he received from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI concerning the validity of Benedict’s resignation from the papacy last year. Tornielli had sent the Pope Emeritus questions about rumors circulating in the press and online about whether or not Benedict’s resignation was valid, and thus whether his successor, Pope Francis, is really pope.

“There is absolutely no doubt regarding the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry” and the “speculations” surrounding it are “simply absurd”. Joseph Ratzinger was not forced to resign, he was not pressured into it and he did not fall victim to a conspiracy: his resignation was genuine and valid and there is no “diarchy” (dual government) in the Church today. There is a reigning Pope, Francis, who leads the Catholic Church and an Emeritus Pope whose “only purpose” is to pray for his successor.

The Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has put pen to paper to set the record straight on the historic decision he took one year ago, in response to the various interpretations that have been circulating in the press and on the web regarding his gesture. Writing from the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in the Vatican, he replied in person to a letter with some questions which we sent him a few days ago, after certain comments made in the Italian and international press about his resignation. Ratzinger was brief and to the point; he denied speculations about any secret reasons behind his resignation and urged people not to give undue importance to certain choices he has made, such as his decision to carry on wearing the white cassock after stepping down as Bishop of Rome. …

In the letter he sent to us, the Pope Emeritus answered some questions regarding his decision to keep his papal name and continue dressing in white. “I continue to wear the white cassock and kept the name Benedict for purely practical reasons. At the moment of my resignation there were no other clothes available. In any case, I wear the white cassock in a visibly different way to how the Pope wears it. This is another case of completely unfounded speculations being made,” he wrote.

Benedict XVI proved this at last Saturday’s Consistory - which Francis had invited him to – when he took a seat along with the cardinal bishops instead of accepting the special seat that was offered to him. When Francis came up to him to greet and embrace him at the start and end of the ceremony, Benedict removed his zucchetto as a sign of respect and also to show that there is only one reigning Pope.

 

 
About the Author
Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.
 
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