A woman takes a closer look at the names of 11 people killed in a mass shooting written on crosses and displayed during a candlelight vigil in front of the City Hall in Monterey Park, California, on Jan. 24, 2023. / Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AF… […]
Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict embrace each other at the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, June 30, 2015. / L’Osservatore Romano.
Rome Newsroom, Jan 25, 2023 / 08:50 am (CNA).
In a new interview published Wednesday, Pope Francis said the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI meant he had lost a “good companion” and a father figure.
“I lost a dad,” Pope Francis told the Associated Press, praising his predecessor — who died on Dec. 31, 2022, at the age of 95 — as a “gentleman.”
Francis said he would visit Benedict for counsel at the converted monastery Mater Ecclesiae in the Vatican Gardens, where the retired pope resided.
“For me, he was a security. In the face of a doubt, I would ask for the car and go to the monastery and ask.”
The 86-year-old pontiff called Benedict’s decision to live in Mater Ecclesiae a “good intermediate solution” in the wide-ranging interview that also included remarks about the Church’s stance on homosexuality, the German Synodal Way — and his health.
Pope Francis has repeatedly praised his predecessor. In April of last year, he described Benedict as “a prophet” of the Church’s future and in November acknowledged his leadership in responding to sexual abuse. On Jan. 4, he said Benedict brought Catholics to an “encounter with Jesus.”
Francis, who has not ruled out retiring, said Benedict’s decision to live in a converted monastery in the Vatican Gardens was a “good intermediate solution” but that future retired popes might want to do things differently.
“He was still ‘enslaved’ as a pope, no?” Francis said.
“Of the vision of a pope, of a system. ‘Slave’ in the good sense of the word: In that he wasn’t completely free, as he would have liked to have returned to his Germany and continued studying theology.”
Benedict “opened the door” to future resignations, Pope Francis said. The pope also confirmed what he said six months ago: If he should retire, he would choose the title of “bishop emeritus of Rome” — not “pope emeritus” — and live neither in his native Argentina nor the Vatican but in Rome.
Asked if he would reside at Archbasilica of St. John Lateran in a TV interview broadcast on July 12, 2022, Francis said “that could be,” since he would like to retire “to hear confessions at a church.”
Pope Francis, seated in a wheelchair, greets a child during the pope’s general audience at the Vatican on Jan. 25, 2023. / Vatican Media
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 25, 2023 / 08:30 am (CNA).
Pope Francis has revealed a recurrence of the intestinal ailment that has plagued him in recent years while also professing to be in good health for his age.
He also indicated he has no plans to resign, although if he were to step down he reiterated that he would want to be called “bishop emeritus of Rome,” rather than “pope emeritus,” the title given his predecessor, Benedict XVI.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Associated Press published Wednesday that also included pointed remarks about homosexuality, the pope disclosed that diverticulosis, or bulges in his intestinal wall, had “returned.”
At the same time, however, the 86-year-old pontiff — who is preparing to embark on a pilgrimage to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo next week — insisted he was in relatively good condition.
“I’m in good health. For my age, I’m normal,” he told the AP on Jan. 24.
Rumors of Francis’ possible resignation, and speculation that his health problems are more serious than the Vatican has acknowledged, have swirled since he underwent surgery in 2021 to have 33 centimeters (13 inches) of his large intestine removed for what the Vatican said was inflammation of his colon.
A slight fracture in his knee Francis suffered in a fall also has made it visibly painful for him to walk, making it necessary for him to rely on a cane and a wheelchair. But Francis told the AP that the fracture had healed without surgery after laser and magnet therapy.
Speaking about papal retirements, Francis dismissed speculation that he is preparing to issue norms for how future papal abdications will be handled.
“I’m telling you the truth,” he said, adding that it was premature to “regularize or regulate” papal retirements because the Vatican had too little experience upon which to draw. Benedict XVI, who died Dec. 31, 2022, after nearly a decade of retirement, was the first pope to step down in nearly 600 years.
Francis hasn’t ruled out retiring, and he repeated Tuesday that if he did so he would be called the bishop emeritus of Rome and would live in the residence for retired priests in the Diocese of Rome.
Benedict’s decision to live in a converted monastery in the Vatican Gardens was a “good intermediate solution,” he told the AP, but future retired popes might want to choose a different course.
“He was still ‘enslaved’ as a pope, no?” Francis said. “Of the vision of a pope, of a system. ‘Slave’ in the good sense of the word: in that he wasn’t completely free, as he would have liked to have returned to his Germany and continued studying theology.”
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during a press conference at the presidential office in Taipei on Dec. 27, 2022. / Photo by SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images
Rome Newsroom, Jan 24, 2023 / 11:30 am (CNA).
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has written a letter to Pope Francis underlining the importance of maintaining peace with China and a commitment to the island’s sovereign democracy.
“The war that erupted between Russia and Ukraine last February has brought home to humanity just how valuable peace is,” Tsai wrote in a letter to the pope published by her office on Jan. 23.
“Preserving regional security has become a key consensus shared by national leaders.”
Tsai sent the letter in response to Pope Francis’ message for the 2023 World Day of Peace, the pope’s annual letter sent to all foreign governments around the world to mark the new year.
The president of Taiwan, formally called the Republic of China (ROC), cited a speech that she gave last October following a dramatic rise in tensions between Beijing and Taipei over the summer.
“In my 2022 National Day address, I underscored that peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait are the basis for the development of cross-strait relations and that armed confrontation is absolutely not an option,” Tsai said.
“I made clear that only by respecting the commitment of the Taiwanese people to our sovereignty, democracy, and freedom can there be a foundation for resuming constructive interaction across the Taiwan Strait.”
Vatican City State is the only remaining country in Europe that recognizes Taiwan as a country.
Taiwan, an island less than 110 miles off the coast of China with a population of more than 23 million people, has maintained a vibrant democracy with robust civil liberties despite increased pressure from Beijing regarding the island’s status.
The Holy See has had formal diplomatic relations with the ROC since 1922, while the Church has not had an official diplomatic presence on the mainland People’s Republic of China (PRC) since it was officially expelled by Beijing in 1951.
Only 14 states worldwide still have full diplomatic relations with Taiwan, among them Guatemala, Haiti, and Paraguay. The Chinese Communist Party government in mainland China views Taiwan as a rebel province and has put pressure on countries to cut diplomatic ties with the island.
Amid concern over what a Vatican decision to renew its 2018 provisional accord with Beijing would mean for the Holy See’s diplomatic relationship with Taiwan, a spokesperson for Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in 2020 that it had received assurances from the Vatican regarding the renewal of the Vatican-China deal.
Tsai, the first female president of Taiwan, noted that last year marked the 80th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Republic of China and the Holy See.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it,” she said.
“Taiwan aspires to serve as a light in the world and will work closely with the Holy See to create a society of greater justice and peace for humanity.”