Francisco remembers Benedict XVI in a book released on Wednesday: “he was a father to me”

Francisco remembers Benedict XVI in a book released on Wednesday: “he was a father to me”
Francisco remembers Benedict XVI in a book released on Wednesday: “he was a father to me”

“El Sucesor”, the book-interview with the Pope, produced by Spanish journalist Javier Martínez-Brocal: Benedict XVI “always defended me; he never interfered”, said Francisco. The work is scheduled to be launched this Wednesday (3).

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“Bento was a man of great sweetness. In some cases, some people took advantage of him, perhaps without malice, and restricted his movements. Unfortunately, in a way, they were surrounding him. He was a very delicate man, but he was not fragile , he was strong. But, with himself, he was humble and preferred not to impose himself. That’s why he suffered a lot.” These are some of the words with which Pope Francis remembers his predecessor Benedict XVI, in the book-interview with Spanish journalist Javier Martínez-Brocal (“El Sucesor”, Editorial Planeta), which will be released this Wednesday, 3 April.

“He let me grow”, explains Francisco, “he was patient. And if he didn’t see something good, he would think three or four times before telling me. He let me grow and gave me the freedom to make decisions”. The Pope recounted the relationship that united him with the emeritus during almost 10 years of coexistence in the Vatican: “he allowed freedom, he never interfered. On one occasion, when there was a decision that he did not understand, he asked me for an explanation in a very natural way. He told me: ‘look, I don’t understand this, but the decision is in your hands’, I explained the reasons and he was happy.” Francisco explains in the book that his predecessor never opposed any of his decisions: “he never stopped supporting me. Maybe there was something he didn’t share, but he never said it.”

The Pope also recalled the circumstances of his farewell to Benedict, on Wednesday, December 28, 2022, when he saw him alive for the last time: “Benedict was lying in bed. He was still conscious, but he couldn’t speak. He looked at me , he shook my hand, he understood what I was saying, but I couldn’t utter a word. I stayed with him like that for a while, looking at him and holding his hand. I remember perfectly his clear eyes…. I told him I said a few words with affection and blessed him. That way, we said goodbye.”

On the issue of continuity between pontificates, Francis said: “what I see in the last popes… is that each successor has always been marked by continuity, continuity and difference”, because “in continuity each one brought his personal charisma… . there is always continuity and no rupture”.

Francisco also told in the book, written in Spanish, a specific case in which he was defended by Benedict XVI. “I had a very pleasant conversation with him when some cardinals came to meet him, surprised by my words about marriage, and he was very clear with them. One day they went to his house to practically judge me and accused me in front of him of promote homosexual marriage. Benedict didn’t get upset because he knew perfectly well what I thought. He listened to them all, one by one, calmed them down and explained everything to them. I once said that since marriage is a sacrament, I don’t can be administered to homosexual couples, but somehow it was necessary to give some guarantee or civil protection to the situation of these people. I said that in France there is the formula of ‘civil unions’, which at first sight could be a good option, because it doesn’t is limited to marriage. For example”, he thought, “three elderly retirees who need to share health services, inheritance, housing, etc. could be welcomed. I wanted to say that this seemed like an interesting solution. Some went to tell Bento that I was speaking heresy. He listened to them and, with great pride, helped them to distinguish things… He told them: ‘this is not heresy’. How he defended me!… He always defended me.”

The Pope also responded to a journalist’s question about the books that were published simultaneously with the death of the pope emeritus. Francisco replied: “They caused me great pain: the fact that on the day of the funeral a book is published that turns me upside down, telling me things that are not true, is very sad. Of course, this does not affect me, in the sense that it doesn’t bother me. But it hurt me that Bento was used. The book was published on the day of the funeral, and I felt it was a lack of nobility and humanity.”

Finally, the Pope revealed to Javier Martínez-Brocal that he had already asked for a review of the papal funeral, explaining that Benedict XVI’s wake was the last with the Pope’s body outside the coffin and with the catafalque with the cushions. Popes “must be veiled and buried like any other child of the Church. With dignity, like any Christian.”

The article is in Portuguese

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