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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at St Peter's Basilica on December 8, 2015. Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images
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Leaked letters: Benedict explains why he chose to be called ‘Pope Emeritus’ (FULL TEXTS)

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ROME, September 21, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — The full contents of Benedict XVI’s letters to Cardinal Walter Brandmüller have been published, revealing Benedict’s conviction that he made the right decision to resign, his sensitivity to those critical of it, and why he chose to be called ‘Pope Emeritus.’ 

The contents of the letters also show that the New York Times was incorrect when it stated that Benedict said Francis’ critics need to, as the Times put it, “knock it off.”

The two letters (see below) appeared today in the German newspaper, Bild, and in English, in the National Catholic Register

In the first letter, dated Nov. 9, 2017, Benedict explains that he chose to be ‘Pope Emeritus’ rather than returning to the life of a cardinal, in part to avoid the media spotlight. 

He writes to Cardinal Brandmüller: “In my case it surely would not have made sense simply to claim a return to the Cardinalate. I then would have constantly been exposed to the public in the way a Cardinal is – indeed, even more so, because in that Cardinal one would have seen the former Pope.”

“This could have led, intentionally or unintentionally, to difficult consequences, particularly in the context of the present situation,” he adds. 

Benedict continues: “With the Papa Emeritus I have tried to create a situation in which I am absolutely inaccessible to the media and in which it is completely clear that there is only one Pope. If you know of a better way and thus believe that you may condemn the one I have chosen, please tell me about it.”

The second letter, dated Nov. 23, 2017, reveals Benedict’s concern that Brandmüller’s Oct. 2017 interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung would whip up anger against him and his pontificate, and the current state of the Church. Benedict describes his pontificate as being “devalued and fused into a sadness about the situation of the Church today.”

“From this fusion a new kind of agitation gradually results, for which the little book by Fabrizio Grasso, La rinuncia (Algra Editore, Viagrande/Catania 2017) could become emblematic,” writes Benedict. 

“All this fills me with worry and, precisely for that reason, the end of your FAZ [Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung] interview left me so troubled, because it ultimately cannot but foster the same sort of atmosphere,” he says.

The 2017 book, ‘The resignation. Has God been defeated?’ [La rinuncia. Dio è stato sconfitto?deals with Benedict’s resignation through the lens of the thought of Carl Schmitt, a German political theorist who, having abandoned Catholicism and allied himself with Nazism, became known as the “crown jurist of the Third Reich.” The author delves into the debate on the simultaneous presence of two Popes in the Catholic Church. 

Here below we publish the full texts of both letters, with the kind permission of the National Catholic Register.

***

His Eminence
Most Reverend
Cardinal Walter Brandmüller
President Emeritus of the Pontifical Historical Commission
Palazzo della Canonica
00120 Vatican City
Vatican City, 9 November 2017

Your Eminence,

In your recent interview with the FAZ [Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung] you say that I created, with the construction of the Pope Emeritus, a figure that does not exist in the entirety of Church history. Of course, you know very well that popes have retired, even if very rarely. What were they afterwards? Pope Emeritus? Or what instead?

As you know, Pius XII left instructions in case of being captured by the Nazis: that from the moment of his capture he would no longer be Pope but a Cardinal again. Whether this simple return to the Cardinalate would have been in fact possible, we do not know.  In my case it surely would not have made sense simply to claim a return to the Cardinalate. I then would have constantly been exposed to the public in the way a Cardinal is – indeed, even more so, because in that Cardinal one would have seen the former Pope. This could have led, intentionally or unintentionally, to difficult consequences, particularly in the context of the present situation. With the Papa Emeritus I have tried to create a situation in which I am absolutely inaccessible to the media and in which it is completely clear that there is only one Pope. If you know of a better way and thus believe that you may condemn the one I have chosen, please tell me about it.

I greet you in the Lord

Your

Benedict XVI

***

His Eminence
Most Reverend
Cardinal Walter Brandmüller
President Emeritus of the Pontifical Historical Commission
Palazzo della Canonica
00120 Vatican City
Vatican City, 23 November 2017

Your Eminence,

From your kind letter of November 15th I assume I may conclude that in the future you no longer want to comment publicly on the question of my resignation, and for this I thank you.

The deep-seated pain that the end of my pontificate has caused in you, as in many others, I can understand very well. But the pain in some — and it seems to me also in you — has turned into anger, which no longer regards only the resignation, but increasingly is expanding to my person and to my pontificate as a whole.  In this manner a pontificate is being devalued and fused into a sadness about the situation of the Church today. From this fusion a new kind of agitation gradually results, for which the little book by Fabrizio Grasso, La rinuncia (Algra Editore, Viagrande/Catania 2017) could become emblematic. 

All this fills me with worry and, precisely for that reason, the end of your FAZ interview left me so troubled, because it ultimately cannot but foster the same sort of atmosphere.

Let us pray instead, as you did at the end of your letter, that the Lord may come to the aid of his Church. With my Apostolic blessing I am 

Your

Benedict XVI



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