The Dispatch: More from CWR...

Benedict XVI addresses resignation conspiracy theories, Iraq, and Biden in new interview

The pope emeritus told Corriere della Sera that he stood by his decision to resign despite criticism from his friends.

Pope Francis greets Pope emeritus Benedict XVI at the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae Monastery on Nov. 28, 2020. (Credit: Vatican Media.)

Vatican City, Mar 1, 2021 / 02:30 am (CNA).- Benedict XVI addressed conspiracy theories about his resignation as pope, Pope Francis’ trip to Iraq, and Joe Biden in an interview with an Italian newspaper published on Monday.

The pope emeritus told Corriere della Sera that he stood by his decision despite criticism from his friends in an interview released on March 1, a day after the eighth anniversary of the end of his pontificate.

“It was a difficult decision. But I made it in full consciousness, and I think I did the right thing,” the 93-year-old former pope told the journalist Massimo Franco during a private visit.

“Some of my friends who are a bit ‘fanatical’ are still angry, they didn’t want to accept my choice. I think of the conspiracy theories that followed it: some said it was because of the Vatileaks scandal, some said it was because of a conspiracy of the gay lobby, some said it was because of the case of the conservative Lefebvrian theologian Richard Williamson.”

“They do not want to believe in a choice made consciously. But my conscience is fine.”

He also underlined that there is only one pope — Francis — rather than two.

Benedict XVI announced his resignation on Feb. 11, 2013. His resignation went into effect on Feb. 28, 2013, when he became the first pope in almost 600 years to step down.

His almost eight-year-long pontificate was overshadowed by the publication of confidential papal documents, known as the Vatileaks scandal, leaked by his butler.

The Italian media speculated about the existence of a “gay lobby” at the Vatican before Benedict XVI’s resignation and Pope Francis commented that “so much is written about the gay lobby” months after his election in 2013.

In 2009, Benedict lifted the excommunication of four SSPX bishops, including Williamson. Shortly afterward, Swedish television broadcast an interview with Williamson that led to the English bishop’s conviction for Holocaust denial by a German court.

The German pope wrote a letter to the world’s bishops in which he acknowledged that the controversy could have been avoided if Vatican officials had researched Williamson’s statements on the internet.

In the interview, Benedict also said that he was praying for the success of Pope Francis’ trip to Iraq this week.

He said: “Unfortunately it falls at a very difficult time that also makes it a dangerous trip: for security reasons and for COVID. And then there is the unstable Iraqi situation. I will accompany Francis with my prayers.”

According to the Italian newspaper, Benedict also commented on U.S. President Joe Biden, saying “It is true, he is Catholic and observant. And personally he is against abortion,” but “as president, he tends to present himself in continuity with the line of the Democratic Party … And on gender policy, we still don’t really understand what his position is.”

If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.

About Catholic News Agency 8483 Articles
Catholic News Agency (


  1. For the latent conspiracy theorist [ a malady I must unfortunately contend with] the late Cardinal Giacomo Biffi a close friend of Pope Benedict XVI was convinced from private conversation with him that a group of predominately German prelates likely the St Gallen Group pressured Benedict to resign, causing the Pontiff great stress. “A cardinal, the Times of London suggested warned the Antichrist may be among us but not seem evil to many. Rather, this mesmerizing personality may be seen by many as a great humanitarian because of his support of vegetarianism, pacifism and the protection of the environment. Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, the 72-year-old archbishop of Bologna, made his comments in a lecture he gave in March on Vladimir Soloviev (1853-1900), a brilliant Russian Orthodox theologian and mystic who has also been cited approvingly by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Soloviev said the Antichrist would appear after the 20th century. He said the 20th century would be marked by horrific wars and the demise of sovereign nations. Then the Antichrist would appear. He would call for a world religion via ecumenism, replacing traditional Christianity with an amorphous New Age type of spirituality (Catholic Culture). Added to this irresistible fare for the conpiracist, Biffi stated that an ideology of homosexuality threatens to marginalize whoever disagrees with the homosexual agenda, and that Catholics must prepare for persecution by homosexual activists and their allies. I would ask you, the reader as cautiously discreet and reasoned as you unquestionably are, doesn’t this strike a discordant note to your well formed rationale for dismissal of conspiracy? After it was Benedict himself who mused that the Basilica lightning strike was an omen for good or bad. As Pontiff that fateful day was he providentially prophetic? All the controversial hoopla surrounding Vat II fades in the background in realization that a much larger issue is at hand. That the non ending controversy distracts. God’s providence in human affairs rules the roost not Man’s questionable brilliance. Inertia surrenders to evil, witness to Christ’s truth whatever the reality never fails.

    • Pope Emeritus on President Biden: “It is true, he is Catholic and observant. And personally he is against abortion”

      What does ‘personally opposed’ to abortion even mean? That you won’t abort a child? Is it saying much of anything if you’re a male?

      “And on gender policy, we still don’t really understand what his position is.”

      We do know. Take note of as who he’s appointed for assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services and of his support for the ersatz “Equality Act.”

      Does being ‘personally opposed’ to so-called ‘transgenderism’ mean that you acknowledge your own biological sex but that you have no qualms about aiding and abetting others who want to ‘identify’ otherwise?

      Since when does Libertarianism = Catholicism?

      • Matthew. As cited in the liberal National Catholic Reporter 2007: “In mid-June 2004, Ratzinger [Josef Ratzinger was then prefect for the CDF] sent a confidential letter on the issue to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the head of a task force of the U.S. bishops studying the question, and then-Bishop Wilton Gregory, at the time the president of the conference. In a presentation to the June 14-19, 2004, meeting of the U.S. bishops, McCarrick characterized the Ratzinger letter as providing flexibility [McCarrick allegedly also had allies on this matter at the Vatican]. On July 3, 2004, Italian Vatican writer Sandro Magister published the full text of Ratzinger’s confidential letter to McCarrick and Gregory, titled Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion, which seemed to strike a much more firm line than McCarrick had suggested. ‘There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia’” (excerpt of Ratzinger’s letter published by Sandro Magister). John Allen National Catholic Reporter nonetheless attempted to support then Cardinal McCarrick, who sent a bogus response to Ratzinger leading him to believe the original letter condemning political support of abortion was given to the USCCB. It was not. McCarrick, a manipulator and inveterate liar withheld the original and misled the USCCB. There were other documented condemnations by Ratzinger and Pope John Paul II in CDF files of political support for abortion, or support by anyone clergy or laity including voting for a pro abortion candidate. Benedict XVI nonetheless appears to parse the issue in this current CNA interview. If it was accurately reported by CNA my opinion is that he was stating it as such to avoid conflict by appearing he was still pontiff. There are varied opinions and controversy whether Benedict remains the pope. The fact remains that after 8 years since previous allegations were made they are no longer verifiable and the issue is now moot. My wish however in agreement with your criticism is that Benedict would still speak out more forcefully. Benedict did release a series of letters that caused consternation with Francis’ lieutenants Fr Antonio Spadaro SJ and biographer Austen Ivereigh because they were interpreted as antithetical to Pope Francis’ policies and opinions.

        • Furthermore Matthew, on all this conspiracy stuff and why an illustrious 93 your old former pontiff is now strangely reduced to a sad diplomat precipitating the grandest of conspiracies, Soloviev’s first mark of the Antichrist is a vegetarian; anyone whose favorite dish is empanadas, irresistible beef filled dumplings cannot be that evil. But that’s a reasoned opinion based on manifest evidence of Pope Francis’s love of empanadas. Although I’ve been on occasion proven wrong.

      • If you read the beginning of the article you will see that CNA did not conduct the interview with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI; they merely reported on an interview conducted by an unnamed Italian Newspaper. Since when do we accept an Italian Newspaper as an accurate source of what (any) Catholic leader purportedly says about an issue as important as what the Catholic Church’s guidance is on Catholic politicians supporting, aiding and abetting abortion? This article I am concerned may have mislead many people on Pope Emeritus Benedict’s true guidance on this issue, as noted by Fr. Morello.

      • Joe Biden is NOT an observant Catholic in any way. He publicly supports abortion at any time up till birth. “Thou shall not murder” is still in the Ten Commandments.

        The Popes are very wrong and God would be angry.

  2. The words are those of a diplomat. Where are the good shepherds? The sheep continue to bleat in search of them who remain in short supply.

  3. I am agree.
    Resignation: himself, Francisco: the Pope, Irak: praying, and Biden…: waiting for(clera christian catholic domestic & public management). Benedicto words: top.

  4. Benedict denies any conspiracy in his decision to resign. Fine. But it begs the question as to why he made that decision. He says it was a conscious choice, but avoids explaining why. That is what fuels conspiracy theories.

    • Joseph, it appears to me that conspiracy theories will continue to flourish no matter what the Pope Emeritus or Pope Francis say.

  5. – The lingering fears/ doubts about the Pope Emeritus’s decision ? related to the scant attention given to the blessed statue occasion at the Vatican with regard to that of St.Di.Francia ? a hint to God’s Will thus already revealed in that name ! – details in the above article . Thus ? the decision to spend more time in ardent prayer , like S.G. Luisa herself for the reign of the Divine Will to take hold in more hearts as the need of our times .

    • J.P.G., Thanks for those words from S.G. Luisa. Pope Benedict is said to be living in ardent prayer for the Church.

      As Pope Emeritus this time he has been very evasive. He spoke stronger as Pope Emeritus before. Perhaps his Biography holds the answer of what he really wants to say. This interview spoken of in this article is not the Benedict XVl I have come to love as the Pope. Something is wrong, very wrong! Strange that he says this right when Francis is trying to befriend him. What is Francis saying to him in this sudden attempt to befriend Pope Benedict, as the News has reported. I ask because Francis is known to be very evil.

      • “very evil” – evidence? You may not realise how stupid this sounds. A pontiff whose daily words reflect the teaching of Jesus !

    • ‘ The prayer of one holy person can be more powerful than all the evils of the world ‘ –
      IIRR , mentioned in Divine Will revelation , thus easy to see how the Pope Emer . could have taken to heart those very words and trying to fulfill his role in same , as one of the two olive stands mentioned in Revelation , for the Reign of The Kingdom to be brought forth .
      Interesting how the errors and fears fueled by those who favor the ‘false popes ‘ and sow fear and discord , including related media sites is the occasion for the persecution faced by the Holy Father –

      Hope any one who have any evil agenda against The Church and the Holy Father would swallow up their lies and thus would see in him what they desire , for God thus to bring good out of such too .

      • J.P.G., “More ardent prayer” “For the reign of the Divine will to take hold” Those words struck me, as did the words of Sr. Lucia Dos Santos that in these days the Rosary will be given a more powerful effect. And now what you say about ‘The prayer of one holy person can be more powerful than all the evils of the world’, I’ve heard that before but I don’t recall where. I believe God is doing as He did in the Old Testament. We threw God out of His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church or we at least allowed it to happen. The prophecy of the “Great Apostacy” from scripture as well as those from the Saints and Mystics are today coming to fulfillment. I desire to consecrate myself to God and suffer whatever he appoints in union with the Ardent Prayers of Pope Benedict XVl. Thanks J.P.G. for what you wrote.

        • ‘ We threw God out …’ – ? a ‘ bit ‘ of arrogance in those words , in line with what Fr.Ripperger warns ..

          Every Holy Mass , Blessed Sacrament , all Sacraments are the work of
          The Lord , in the Holy Spirit , as well as every moment of anything in His Will – every heart beat , every breath ..
          ‘Holy things done in unholy manner lead to hardness of hearts ‘- the need to speak tenderly to hearts that have become hardened ,fearful , as a result of the flood waters of evil intentions against life and purity and all such areas , as warned just the other day by the Holy Father too – may many
          be grateful for a Father figure who has been given us , through the Mother’s Heart , for the need of our times .
          Would rather that you did not address me personally in response , since dread to see same being occasions that seem to border on , well , guess you know what !
          Then again , using freedom for own agendas alone also very much part of all our lives .
          God bless !

          • J.P.G., It was not my intention to address you personally as you may think or it may seem. I was addressing certain words you spoke. I’m sorry if you took it that way, you shouldn’t have. I know what you mean, giving flattery can bring about vain glory. I was not giving false flattery only thanking you for what you quoted. An arrogance you say, I don’t believe that’s the case. When you go to Mass you can see the fruits of Modernism. Its no longer about God. The Confessional lines are short, the Communion lines are long and it should be the other way around. We should be receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion with real fear and trembling. But instead its only a routine. Christ is there but we have been blindfolded to this reality, blindfolded for the end results of the Modernist heresy. In order to remedy my fault I can honestly tell you, its not about you and its not about me. Its all about the God whom we must fear, for His greater Glory and Honor.

  6. Not much in the article. The real question is why did he resign. My speculation is that he is a theologian and writer. He does not seem to be cut out to be a leader and live in what probably is a rough and tumble world of vatican politics. It is very unfortunate for the Church that he resigned, he should have plowed on, but he didn’t.

  7. His comments about Biden were sadly lukewarm. Biden is much more plainspoken about his views/agenda. With weak statements like these it is no wonder why it is open season on the Catholic Church.

  8. I expected Benedict to be more forceful on the subject of Joe Biden’s support of abortion, transgenderism and gay marriage. Is it any wonder, then, that the American bishops are so milquetoast in their “condemnation” of these issues? If our leadership doesn’t lead, we must count on ourselves to form right consciences and follow them in Christ. What good is the USCCB for the average Catholic?

  9. Is Pope Benedict justifying his resignation? Is he justifying all that Francis has done to cause destruction to Christ’s Church. Somehow I don’t believe Pope Benedict is telling the truth this time. He has only opened the doors to new conspiracies.

  10. I am so disappointed in my faith now in Catholicism. I will remain Catholic because of my God and Savior Jesus Christ but I will not cave on my beliefs about having 2 Popes. The true Pope to me has always been Pope Benedict, once a Pope, always a Pope, that is my belief from the very beginning, and I don’t believe in what is being told to the public. Something is not coming out. I will just have to pray more, especially for our Catholic Church and the behaviors of those involved as our leaders. My hope and faith now is in Jesus Christ Himself.

    • Linda C. Gibson, Your not alone. But!!! In the actual interview Pope Benedict does not say that Francis is the Pope. Pope Benedict XVl since his resignation to the “Ministerium” the direct Governance of the Pope, he resigned. He did not resign the “Munus” which is the Papacy itself. He ordered that he Be called Pope Emeritus Pope Benedict XVl. He also ordered that he be addressed as “Your Holiness”. As Pope Emeritus he still signs everything with the initials “P.P”, only a Pope can sign that way. His actual words in the interview was, “Their is only one Pope” Period. He has been known to write and say things in cryptic language. Like when he said, “There is only one Pope. And I am not sitting in the Chair of St. Peter”. The cryptic language makes no mention of Francis, he is alluding to himself. Pope Benedict XVl since his retirement has never alluded to Francis as Pope. Not now nor ever. The Article is misleading. The actual words in the interview are, “There is but one Pope”. He does not mention Francis. God Help Us!

  11. Also his comments or reported comments on Biden if true are really disturbing. Hoping he is not aware of the full scope of Biden’s pro abortion actions. If not and he is aware of the full scope of Biden’s action, then his comments would be really troubling and another indication that the gates of hell are on the Church’s doorstep.

  12. When the evil is as great as abortion and there is no middle ground that it is murder, I will never be able to reconcile how a Catholic can be personally opposed to it but turn the other cheek and do nothing about it. When popes and bishops think that is acceptable in the eyes of Jesus, how can we expect the people in the Church to not do the same thing? A faithful Catholic told me that abortion is just committed mostly by poor people. Is it really?

  13. Down in the cellar I have an old issue of Catholic World Report (when it was a magazine) and the cover story is about whether or not ‘catholic’ (small c – my idea) politicians who are adamant about their support for abortion should be allowed to receive Holy Communion. That magazine is at least 15 years old, and still we are debating the issue.

    The constant nonsensical babbling of Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, whoever the president of Notre Dame might be, Fr. Martin, Cardinal what’s-his-name of Washington et. al. ad infinitum aside – Is there any issue more important than the value of human life, especially the life of the most helpless among us?

  14. Finally. Now the Benevacantist tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists can give it a rest. The first thing we need to do to confront the errors of this Pontificate is to accept that Francis is, indeed, Pope. Going into schism and retreating into fantasy from reality is not the answer. Let’s stop this QAnon rubbish.

    • Johann du Toit, Accept Francis as Pope? There are too many facts that prove he is an anti-Pope. One being that according to Canon Law his acceptance and partaking of the campaign to elect him brought him excommunication Latae Sententiae. He knew the Canon Law on this but as we see, his way of doing things is to change Church Laws or ignore them. Whether he likes Church Law or not an excommunicated man cannot be raised to the Pontificate. He was not canonically elected.

      • Dear fellow Catholics. Where is your God given intelligence? If Benedict during his time as Pope made the decision to resign, who are we to criticize him? Who are we to demand an account of a decision that was the result of ongoing reflection and prayer of a highly intelligent and spiritual man? He firmly stands by his decision , eight years after the fact. No one holds him captive. His mind is as brilliant as ever. Please do some charity work rather then waste your energy with discussions that are fruitless.And yes , Pope Francis is not perfect as a human being ( and neither was Pope Benedict) but he certainly is our rightful Pope
        May he be protected and blessed.

        • Marianne Werner, For many of us our energies are placed toward the whole Catholic Faith. Something has gone wrong in the Church since at least October 11, 1962. The way of indifference is condemnable.

          Just look at this serious situation. Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos went on a trip to China, he sat next to another Cardinal who was also on his way to China. This Cardinal bragged to Cardinal Hoyos of a plot to assassinate Pope Benedict XVl. Giving Hoyos the names of the Cardinals and Bishops involved. Cardinal Martini bragged, “By this time next year Pope Benedict XVl won’t be there anymore”. Within the year, Pope Benedict XVl announced his retirement. Cardinal Hoyos had written a letter to Pope Benedict, outlining the assassination plot and the names of those who were involved. The existence of this letter was rumored to exist. At a press conference the Papal spokesman was asked about this letter. The Papal spokesman confirmed it in fact existed but that Pope Benedict XVl asked that it not be made public.

          Now Marianne should we Catholics who love the Church just sing 100 versus of Kumbaya and ignore the whole issue. NO!!!

  15. Maybe you are partially or entirely right. What difference does it make? Possession is nine-tenths of the law. Francis occupies the See of Peter and has no intention of vacating it. Furthermore, the only group of people who conceivably could declare him illegitimate with any effect, the College of Cardinals, has absolutely no inclination to do so. The argument is useless.

    • Tony W., One thing that we can do is to keep reminding Bergoglio that he was not canonically elected. So he does not hold the Power of the Keys. The Power of the Keys is the defense of the Truth of Christ’s Church. It is only too obvious that Bergoglio posses no truth but only all that is false. I as a Baptized Christian have the Power to declare to my self and to my family, Bergoglio is not a Pope. With Bergoglio he only has the honorable title of pope, An honorable title for a dishonorable man. Thank God he is not our Pope!

  16. I would not put any credence in this newspaper interview. Nevertheless, my opinion is that Benedict’s resignation has proved a disaster for the Catholic Church.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.