Benedict XVI defends Pope Francis on fifth anniversary of his election



 Benedict XVI defends Pope Francis on fifth anniversary of his election

Gerard O Connell

In a letter, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has strongly defended Pope Francis against those who claim he lacks theological and philosophical formation and has affirmed that “there is an internal continuity between the two pontificates.”

He did so in a personal letter to Msgr. Dario Vigano, prefect of the Secretariat for Communications, on the occasion of the presentation of a series of 11 small books on “The Theology of Pope Francis,” written by the same number of theologians, the Vatican said. The collection was edited by the Rev. Roberto Repole, president of the Italian Theological Association.

In the letter dated Feb. 7 and made known today by Msgr. Vigano during a press conference for the presentation of the books in the Sala Marconi of Vatican Radio, Benedict welcomed the publication of these volumes for setting the record right about his successor.

He wrote: “I applaud this initiative that seeks to oppose and react to the foolish prejudice according to which Pope Francis would only be a practical man devoid of particular theological or philosophical formation, while I would have been only a theoretician of theology that understood little of the concrete life of a Christian today.”

Benedict thanked Msgr. Vigano for sending him the collection of books and said, “these small volumes rightly show that Pope Francis is a man of profound philosophical and theological formation and they help [people] therefore to see the internal continuity between the two pontificates, even with all the differences of style and temperament.”

The collection is published by the Vatican Publishing House and its new head, Brother Giulio Cesareo, O.F.M.Conv., revealed that the series will be translated into English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Polish and Romanian.

This unexpected letter is an important defense of Pope Francis against all those, including some cardinals, bishops, priests and theologians, who allege that Francis lacks the necessary philosophical and theological preparation, with some even accusing him of heresy, and charge that his pontificate is not in continuity with that of his predecessor.

Similar Posts


    1. Mattie Long says:


      Home > Bulletin > Pubblico > 2018 > 03

      Declaration of the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, 21.03.2018

      The Holy Father Francis has accepted the resignation presented by Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, prefect of the Secretariat for Communication (SPC).

      Pending the appointment of the new prefect, the SPC will be guided by the secretary of the same Dicastery, Msgr. Lucio Adrián Ruiz.

  1. Con Devree says:

    Frances Burke’s references (#2)and other reports reveal another confused activity in the Vatican. It’s unfortunate on two counts.

    Firstly, the latest CDF document “Placuit Deo,” referring as it does to the Christocentric focus of an earlier CDF document, Dominus Iesus, demonstrates an attitude of clarity and continuity.

    Secondly, Monsignor Vigano may have had the aim of seeking to prevent rancour in Church theological exchanges.

    However the operational shoddiness of the event reminds one of the gag concerning the Socrates maxim – “if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?” (The remainder of the gag can be googled.)

    A notable feature of the occasion is that Pope Benedict, despite being unable to endorse the books, again acts as the advocate of unity, of continuity of doctrine. We have known for some time that apart from preparing homilies for Sunday Mass he does not “do” theology any more. This provides one reason for his not having “truly” read the books in question.

    The excerpts quoted by Monsignor Vigano from Benedict’s letter become clearer when taken in conjunction with a quotation from the latter’s introduction to a book of essays honouring Cardinal Mueller – “You have defended the clear traditions of the faith, but in the spirit of Pope Francis you have tried to understand how they can be lived today.”

    This in turn reflects Cardinal Mueller’s assertion that “there were no disagreements between Pope Francis and me.”

    In ways the episode features examples of courtesy and frankness in internal Catholic interaction that model behaviours disposed to fruitful religious dialogue.

  2. Frances Burke says:

    I can totally understand why genuine journalists, who operate under strict standards when reporting i.e. ‘No element should be digitally added to or subtracted from any photograph’ have reacted with justifiable rancour to the blatant breach of this principle by the PR gurus in the Vatican.

    We are all well aware of the term ‘fake news’, and I for one would prefer if was kept on the western side of the Atlantic Ocean.


Join the Discussion

Keep the following in mind when writing a comment

  • Your comment must include your full name, and email. (email will not be published). You may be contacted by email, and it is possible you might be requested to supply your postal address to verify your identity.
  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger. Comments containing vulgarities, personalised insults, slanders or accusations shall be deleted.
  • Keep to the point. Deliberate digressions don't aid the discussion.
  • Including multiple links or coding in your comment will increase the chances of it being automati cally marked as spam.
  • Posts that are merely links to other sites or lengthy quotes may not be published.
  • Brevity. Like homilies keep you comments as short as possible; continued repetitions of a point over various threads will not be published.
  • The decision to publish or not publish a comment is made by the site editor. It will not be possible to reply individually to those whose comments are not published.