Pope says no one put pressure on him to resign
VATICAN CITY: Former Pope Benedict says in his memoirs no one pressured him to resign but alleges a “gay lobby” in the Vatican had tried to influence decisions, a leading Italian newspaper reported yesterday.
The book, called The Last Conversations, is the first time a former pope judges his own pontificate after it is over.
It is due to be published on September 9.
Citing health reasons, Benedict in 2013 became the first pope in six centuries to resign. He promised to remain “hidden to the world” and has been living in a former convent in the Vatican gardens.
Italy’s Corriere della Sera daily, which has acquired the Italian newspaper rights for excerpts and has access to the book, ran a long article yesterday summarising its key points.
In the book, Benedict says he came to know of the presence of a “gay lobby” made up of four or five people who were seeking to influence Vatican decisions.
The article says Benedict says he managed to “break up this power group”.
Benedict resigned following a turbulent papacy that included the so- called “Vatileaks” case, in which his butler leaked some of his personal letters and other documents that alleged corruption and a power struggle in the Vatican.
Italian media at the time reported a faction of prelates who wanted to discredit Benedict and pressure him to resign was behind the leaks.
The Church has maintained its centuries-long opposition to homosexual acts.
But rights campaigners have long said many gay people work for the Vatican.
Church sources have said they suspect that some have banded together to support one another’s careers and influence decisions in the bureaucracy.
Benedict, who now has the title emeritus pope, has always maintained that he made his choice to leave freely.
Corriere says that in the book Benedict “again denies blackmail or pressure”.
He says he told only a few people close to him of his intention to resign, fearing it would be leaked before he had a chance to make the surprise announcement on February 11, 2013.
The former pope, in the book-long interview with German writer Peter Seewald, says he had to overcome his own doubts on the effect his choice could have on the future of the Roman Catholic Church. – Reuters
Pope Francis, left, and retired Pope Benedict XVI embrace during a ceremony to celebrate Benedict’s 65th anniversary of his ordination as a priest, in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, at the Vatican, last month.