Ever since February 28, 2013, when emeritus Pope Benedict XVI unexpectedly, and in Latin, announced his resignation, theories regarding why became too numerous to count: scandals over leaked confidential documents, his health, an alleged “gay lobby” in the Vatican, and so on. Benedict said at the time he was stepping down because he was 86 and lacked the strength to continue with his mission of leading an institution present in every corner of the world, with over 1.2 billion members. In a recent interview he expanded on that explanation, adding more details. Among other things, he said that his March 2012 trip to Mexico and Cuba had taken such a toll that he knew he’d be incapable of making another grueling international trip. He says he agreed with his doctor it’d be better if he didn’t make such a demanding outing. He had one looming: A July 2013 trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to lead millions of youth from around the world in a week-long festival known as World Youth Day in July 2013. Hence he saw it as his “duty” to resign from the papacy, sooner rather than later after his return from Mexico and Cuba. That snippet was shared by the emeritus pope himself in an interview with Italian Elio Guerrero, author of the upcoming book “Servant of God and Humanity: The biography of Benedict XVI.” It’ll be released in Italian on August 30, and no date for an English publication has yet been announced. The book includes not only a preface by Pope Francis, but also an interview Guerrero had with Benedict. The emeritus pope also reveals that he wasn’t worried with his decision, because from the beginning of his pontificate he knew he was “a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.”
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Meantime, La Stampa has this interview with Benedict:
“Obedience to my successor has always been unquestionable. Then there is a sense of deep communion and friendship,” the Pope Emeritus said ahead of the publication of Peter Seewald’s book-length interview with Benedict XVI in a few days time. The conversations in this book, titled “Latest conversations”, took place after Benedict XVI’s historic decision to resign from the papacy. Italian newspaper La Repubblica gives readers a taste of these conversations by publishing a dialogue between Ratzinger and Elio Guerriero, editor of the Italian edition of Ratzinger’s works, who had a chance to speak to the former Pope. The confirmation given about the timeframe within which Ratzinger decided to resign and the key role intercontinental trips played in this – particularly the visit to Rio de Janeiro for WYD 2013, which Benedict XVI did not feel up to – are significant aspects. “There were numerous commitments which I felt I was no longer able to carry through,” Ratzinger explained. “Notably, the World Youth Day which had been scheduled to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the summer of 2013. I was very certain of two things. After the experience of the trip to Mexico and Cuba, I no longer felt able to embark on another very demanding visit. Furthermore, according to the format of these gatherings, which had been established by John Paul II, the Pope’s physical presence there was paramount. A television link or any other such technological solution was out of the question. This was another reason why I saw it as my duty to resign.”
Read it all. There are warm words about Pope Francis toward the end.