In a rare new interview, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has said his “conscience is clear” about his resignation from the papacy eight years ago, that there is “only one Pope,” and that his decision to resign was a “conscious choice” and unrelated to “conspiracy theories.”
“It was a painful decision, but I believe I did the right thing. My conscience is clear,” Benedict XVI told Corriere della Sera’s senior correspondent Massimo Franco.
The 45-minute interview, which took place at Benedict’s Mater Ecclesiae residence in the Vatican Gardens on Feb. 28 — eight years to the day since his departure from the apostolic palace — covered a variety of issues including U.S. President Joe Biden, about whom Benedict expressed some reservations.
“It’s true, he’s Catholic and observant. And personally he is against abortion,” Benedict observed. “But as president, he tends to present himself in continuity with the line of the Democratic Party. …. And on gender policy we still don’t really understand what his position is,” he said.
Corriere della Sera, however, gave most prominence to Benedict’s views on his resignation, headlining the interview “Ratzinger, 8 Years Ago the Resignation — ‘There Are Not Two Popes.’”
“It was a difficult decision,” Benedict XVI recalled. “But I made it in full awareness, and I think I did the right thing. Some of my friends who are a bit ‘fanatical’ are still angry, they didn’t want to accept my choice.”
He remarked on “the conspiracy theories” that followed his resignation, saying that “some said it was because of the Vatileaks scandal, others because of a gay lobby plot, others because of the case of the conservative Lefebvrian theologian Richard Williamson.”
“They don’t want to believe it was a conscious choice, but my conscience is clear,” he said.
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