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Pope Benedict on Abdication: “I See That it was Right Every Day”

Pope Benedict’s new book-length interview with Peter Seewald, entitled Benedict XVI — Last Testament, has offered new insights into the mind of the Pope Emeritus. From Ed Pentin at the National Catholic Register, we are treated to portions of both Benedict’s own commentary and that of his long-time personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, who spoke at an event for the book on September 12 (emphasis added):

Archbishop Gaenswein, who is also prefect of the Pontifical Household, drew particular attention to two key passages relating to Benedict’s resignation which he described as especially “illuminating” and “new knowledge.”

The book, as Archbishop Gaenswein pointed out, tackles three key areas: “the roots of the reasons and motives” and the “exact circumstances of Benedict’s puzzling resignation”; his relationship with Pope Francis; and the German Pope’s “personal point of view” on the different “crises and ‘scandals’ of his papacy.”

Regarding his resignation, Gaenswein states that the Pope Emeritus reiterates that “it was not an escape” and insists that “nobody” was demanding his resignation. “It was clear to me that I had to do it and that this was the right moment,” Benedict says in the book. “It was a complete surprise for everyone.”

Benedict says he “knew: I can’t do it anymore” and saw that the time had come to “disengage from the large crowds of people and adjourn into this greater intimacy.” It was “not an inner flight from the demand of the faith, which leads the people to the cross,” he explains in the book. “The step is not a flight but another way to remain faithful to my ministry.”

Asked if he ever regretted resigning, he replies: “No. No, no. I see that it was right every day” and that everything went even better than he had planned. For this reason, he said he couldn’t see himself as a failure. As to theories that some wanted him out and manoeuvred him to resign, the Pope emeritus replies curtly, “total nonsense!”.

At the book launch, Archbishop Gaenswein said that what the Pope said next should be “taken to heart as new knowledge” about how he sees his resignation and his role as Pope emeritus. “The Pope is not super human,” Benedict says in the book. “If he resigns, he keeps the responsibilities in an inner sense but not the role. In this respect, the papacy lost nothing from its size, even if the humanity of the office emerges perhaps more clearly.”

Stressing that he is “in contact daily” with Benedict XVI, Archbishop Gaenswein said he could only stress such comments to be “authentic.” He added that another passage about this same topic was also “somehow new and distinctive and especially illuminating.”

He referred to when Benedict recounts his desertion as a conscripted member of the Nazi Youth in 1945 at the age of 17, and Benedict’s admitted astonishment that he just “decided to go home” despite the risk of being shot.

Archbishop Gaenswein said when he read that, it felt like a “déjà vu” experience, a “hidden key” that helped explain his resignation. “He was so certain of this, like a sleepwalker against 1,000 aggressors, and in the summer of 2012, a second time, and calmly ‘decided to go home.’”

Moving on to Pope Francis, the German prelate stressed in his presentation that Benedict had “absolutely not” expected Jorge Mario Bergoglio to become Pope, but was very glad he [Francis – ed.] “spoke on one side with God and on the other side with the people.”

Furthermore, Archbishop Gaenswein said Benedict speaks about seeing “no breach anywhere” between him and Francis — “new accents, yes, but no contradictions”, a man of “practical reform”. Benedict also sees Francis as correcting his own Petrine ministry by being someone “who is used to always being with people.” Perhaps, Benedict confesses, “I was actually not with the people enough.”

Here, once again, we are treated to an understanding of how Benedict views his own abdication and the pontificate of Pope Francis. Far from the words of a man who was coerced or in captivity, as some have speculated, we are given every reason to believe that there is no contention in Rome over who holds the Petrine office.

The Seewald interview is alleged to be Pope Emeritus Benedict’s last planned published work.

42 thoughts on “Pope Benedict on Abdication: “I See That it was Right Every Day””

    • I think a lot of people mistakenly thought him to be someone he was not. The man was always a progressive deeply influenced by Modernism. He just happened to have a stronger respect for tradition and theology than other contemporary popes.

      • Exactly, and I’m as guilty of it as anyone else. I used to think Ratzinger/Benedict was the man who had righted the ship and led us out of the liturgical and doctrinal anarchy of the ’70s and ’80s, especially when Summorum was released. But after looking at what Ratzinger was writing during the Council, it’s clear as can be that he is a progressive through and through, albeit relatively conservative compared to Bergoglio/Francis, Marx, and Kasper.

        Still, it’s painful when you realize that someone you want so desperately to believe is on your side turns out to have been anything but.

        • Agree with above, he’s not what we hoped/thought, but it still doesn’t add up. It’s like listening to someone else speak. The language is not like him. The statements are not like him. Like a badly dubbed film where the meaning is obviously not being translated. It. Just. Doesn’t. Feel. Right..

          • Ditto. Benedict has never expressed himself in the way he has lately. Not even his style of communication. It doesn’t sound like the same man. Who knew that Benedict was such a talented actor? This is what is so very strange……. to me anyway.

      • Benedict is not a Modernist. Point me to some writings of his that you think are Modernist.

        As many have already observed before me, his statements since abdicating make no sense; it’s not even just the content; they don’t have the ‘tone’ of previous Benedict statements/writings.

        It’s hard to know what to think about Benedict at present. His theological works, his writings as head of the CDF, his papal writings, are in deep conflict with the things happening under Francis; yet he acts and speaks as if everything is wonderful. It is, to say the least, challenging to process the realities unfolding.

      • “It is pride which fills Modernists with that confidence in themselves and leads them to hold themselves up as the rule for all, pride which puffs them up with that vainglory which allows them to regard themselves as the sole possessors of knowledge and makes them say, inflated with presumption, We are not as the rest of men, and which, to make them really not as other men, lead them to make all kinds of the most absurd novelties; it is pride which rouses in them the spirit of disobedience, and causes them to demand a compromise between authority and liberty; it is pride that makes of them the reformers of others, while they forget to reform themselves, and which begets their absolute want of respect for authority, not excepting the supreme authority.” (P. 121, A Catechism of Modernism, The Rev. J.B, Lemius, O.M.I.). “It was pride that changed angels into devils.” (St. Augustine)

  1. He was supposed to have been one of the progressives at Vatican 2. It seemed like he became more traditional over the years. The one thing that can be said though is that since Francis has taken over, a lot of the rot has been brought to the surface and a lot of higher-ups have had to pick sides publically. A lot more is clear to us now. That is something good, at least.

  2. I don’t have trouble accepting that Benedict XVI is also touched by modernism. But some things don’t add up…

    He was surprised that Pope Francis was elected? Wasn’t Francis the other candidate running against him in the previous election? Why be surprised?

    And of course there is the conspiratorial question, that if there was and still is a gun to Benedict XVI’s head, what else would we really expect him to say other than offer praise for his captors?

    So I don’t see this interview putting anything to rest in that regard, but a lot of things being attributed to Benedict sound like 180s, though this is not unknown about him, considering the Fatima cover-up.

    If they could forge a letter, they could forge an interview just as they did to Sr. Lucia. As for the photos, he does look like a happy man. But of course there’s an ‘explanation’ for that too.

    Anyway, were there no difficult questions to directly ask of Benedict? Like say, “Your Emerited Holiness, what do you think about Communion to the divorced and remarried who have no desire to reform?” “What do you think about about the problems people are having with Amoris Latitia?” “How do you feel about glorifying the Reformation?” “What do you tihnk about people interpreting your statements as a Papal diarchy where the active and inactive parts are divided? Could you please clarify?”

    But we only get some softball stuff. Is he not permitted to speak about such things? Does he not want to criticize whatever the Pope is doing? The fact that no-one asks him or that he won’t answer such things, is proof that things may not be so rosy and friendly between the two Popes, despite how the active one claims to appreciate criticism.

    • Your holiness… how is your idea of a diarchy not just another way of saying there are two popes? Do you still believe that there is a dictatorship of relativism? Is there still a problem in the western world with the crumbling of reason?

      Do you still care about any of the stuff you said was important three and a half years ago?

      Were you lying all that time, or are you lying now?

      • Precisely! Either this interview is fake, there’s a gun to his head, he’s completely lost his mind, he became possessed the moment Satan fell as lightning and struck St. Peter’s, or he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing all along.

        But I find the very last possibility the most unlikely. He may be touched by modernism, but he doesn’t strike me as one to go so far along as Francis has, particularly when he was a step back from his own predecessor.

        • He could be blackmailed or indoctrinated or afraid of Polonium 210. Thousand of commie priests in Vatican are waiting and very happy to liberate him.
          Pray for him, a human.

    • I read that this interview was conducted in 2013, long before either synod or AL. So the interview doesn’t necessarily give a picture of what he thinks right now.

    • “Wasn’t Francis the other candidate running against him in the previous election? Why be surprised?”
      Other reports say it was Cardinal Martini who was the closest contender to Ratzinger at the conclave. But what difference, at this point, does it make? Martini=Bergoglio, pretty much.

  3. I’m incredulous at the incredulity. There are dozens of resources available to anyone who would like to see what traditionalists believed about Pope Emeritus Benedict. Reading the comments here, you get the impression that sedevacantism wasn’t/isn’t a thing.

  4. Given we cannot trust the Vatican these days, how much can we really trust this? It reminds me of Vietnam war prisoners who “approved” of communism. We are living in a time of half-truths and diabolical ambiguity right from the top, so why would this be any different?

  5. “The Church is built upon the foundation of the Apostles AND the Prophets…” (e.a.)
    Without assistance from the latter, it is easy enough to believe things that are not entirely credible.

    And since the modern(ist) denizens of the Vatican do not respect the Queen of Prophets adequately– at the least, not enough to do what she requests, how can we be expected by default to uncritically accept such statements as entirely truthful and forthright?

  6. In the end his actions confirm a weak willed man, with shallow faith acting as a reluctant Pope infected with the heresy of modernism. Like all of his Conciliar predecessors, his lack of supernatural faith let him deny Truth and dissolve his courage. Crowds too big? Too tired to fly? “…I see that it was right every day….”? Words to live by but certainly not to die by. May God forgive him and help all of us. His successor is a demonic wrecking ball who officially confirmed he is a heretic per his confirmation of Chapter 8 in AL.

  7. Let’s just hope he shuts up completely because all he is doing with these ridiculous statements is further harming the Church. Perhaps the reason he doesn’t see any breach between his pontificate and that of Francis’ is that he keeps looking at it through his blinded left eye…

  8. Oh right. Escaping a desperate and collapsing Nazi army is so much like abdicating the papacy. Reading all of this makes me ill for about nineteen different reasons.

  9. A very curious explanation of the resignation made all the more curious by Archbishop’s Gaenswein’s delphic glosses on the text. Reading the same words – such as “No. No, no. I see that it was right every day” – the tone strikes me as odd and out of character with the Ratzinger that I have known (albeit from a distance) and have loved. This is not the same voice. I am compelled to consider two options: a collapse of will or that Ratzinger is saying the opposite of what he means.

  10. His words are guaranteed to increase the certitude of the conspiracists that he was forced to resign even though one the primary reasons for his abdication was that he was too tuckered to fly oft to World Youth Day and we all know that appearing at this or that event is crucial to the papacy

  11. “If he resigns, he keeps the responsibilities in an inner sense but not the role. In this respect, the papacy lost nothing from its size, even if the humanity of the office emerges perhaps more clearly.”

    That is a pacific sounding bit of gibberish with no discernible meaning.

    There has always and only been one Pope.

    Just imagine that after Nixon resigned and he then started to claim he still possessed part of the POTUS in some unspecified numinous inner hidden spiritual part.

  12. I wonder if Benedict is losing his mind. The things he has said recently doesn’t seem like the Benedict I remember. He doesn’t seem like the Benedict whose election I prayed for and hoped for. He doesn’t seem like the Benedict I was so excited about I couldn’t get back to my dorm room fast enough to check the news when I heard a German had been elected pope. As a theologian, he wasn’t what I would have preferred, but I didn’t know that then and I still think he’s about the best we could have hoped for.

    I don’t think Benedict has Alzheimer’s or any kind of dementia, but I’ve worked with enough elderly people to jnow that many people just aren’t as sharp of mind in their old age. Maybe he’s like that. That would explain his unusual comments lately. It would also explain, especially if he knows he’s like that, why he sees his abdication as a good thing.

    On another note, he says he got rid of the gay lobby. Really? As if they’re just going to go away. Now, he did take care of a lot of the mess of the Legionaries of Christ, and he appointed several good bishops, but this kind of problem doesn’t go away overnight and without a lot of prayer and effort. Benedict seems to be acting as if it was there, and then went away after he made a few quick moves. I’m sorry, but it’s more complicated than that and he knows it. Like I said, perhaps it’s just that his mind is not so clear anymore.

  13. This interview, as I understand it, was conducted in 2013. It cannot necessarily be taken as a statement on the current state of things (i.e., the two synods, Amoris laetitia, and the recent letter confirming that “there are no other interpretations”).

    Benedict XVI is not a Modernist. The books he wrote before becoming Pope, the letters he wrote as Pope, are not the works of a Modernist.

  14. A new church is being born before out eyes with hardly anyone really realizing it. The church of Benedict and before will be gone in five to ten years. A ecumenical church will replace it with union with all the other churches. The fence sitting will soon be over.

    I have been waiting for Francis. I was pretty certain he was going to show up eventually. The big delay was JPII. Francis will complete what the wreckers of the 1970`s started. There is no going back. The Rubicon has been crossed. No man will save us now. Only the second coming of Christ.

    • Hi Daniel – Jesus returns for a reason, and when He does those who have chosen the path away from the Church guided by the Holy Spirit toward those that are guided by the unholy spirit will face the consequence of that decision. Those who follow Francis will share his eternal fate. Sounds fair to me.


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