Pope Benedict Rejects “Foolish Prejudice” about Pope Francis

Pope-Franis-Pope-BenedictFive years ago today, on March 13, 2013, I was about to go out to the store early in the afternoon, but paused to look at the news to find out what was going on with the conclave — and ended up live-blogging the election of Pope Francis. The ensuing five years has been a real roller-coaster ride. And I have been blogging it all the way.

There is, naturally, a tone of commentary today, but the one I most wish people would read is the one by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He wrote it in reply to Msgr. Dario Vigano, Prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for Communications, in response to his gift of a set of just-released volumes on the theology of Pope Francis. He writes about the critics of Pope Francis and his own:

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 who understood little of the concrete life of a Christian today.

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.

God bless dear Pope Benedict! Attention to all Pope Francis critics who look to Benedict’s papacy as a nostalgic touchstone. He doesn’t agree with you.

Read more here.  I corrected the English from the Italian a bit from here.

Update: March 20: I originally wrote this in great haste, and had noted something odd about Sandro Magister’s comments in the last link, but didn’t have time to comment on it. He implied that Benedict’s “ironic” comments that followed, about not having read the volumes thoroughly and therefore being unable to write a more detailed analysis were somehow supposed to mean that Benedict was not actually giving any endorsement of Pope Francis — for those who know how to read between the lines! This has been seized on by so many people who ought to know better — and by Raymond Arroyo on EWTN, who I’m no sure knows better at all. His attacks on Pope Francis lately have been disgraceful.

Here is a good post/article by Dave Armstrong, who I believe hits the nail on the head.



Pope Benedict Rejects “Foolish Prejudice” about Pope Francis — 2 Comments

  1. Errr maybe not so much. http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-vatican-benedict-letter-20180317-story.html “In addition to saying he didn’t have time, Benedict noted that one of the authors involved in the project had launched “virulent,” ”anti-papist” attacks against his teaching and that of St. John Paul II. He said he was “surprised” the Vatican had chosen the theologian to be included in the 11-volume “The Theology of Pope Francis.”

    “I’m certain you can understand why I’m declining,” Benedict wrote…….In the parts of Benedict’s letter that Vigano chose to read, Benedict confirmed that Francis has solid theological and philosophical training, and he praised the book’s initiative for showing the “interior continuity” between the two papacies. He wrote that it was “foolish prejudice” to paint Francis as only a practical man devoid of theology and Benedict as a mere academic who knew nothing of the lives of ordinary faithful.

    But Benedict’s full caveat about his refusal to comment on the volume was never made public in Vigano’s presentation, press release or accompanying photo.

    That omission left the impression that the 90-year-old retired pope had read the volume and fully endorsed it, when in fact he hadn’t.”

  2. How exactly does that matter? It isn’t Benedict’s endorsement of these volumes of commentary on Francis’ theology that matter, it’s his endorsement of Francis’ theology, which I’m sure he knows as well or better than anyone else. I’ve read that Francis even sends drafts of his documents to him to comment, much as JPII did. Benedict probably skimmed enough of the books to be aware of their content in a general way, so his comment about them was truthful as far as it went. His praise of Francis stands on its own. The editors were obviously hoping for something else, but were disappointed. It may well be that they asked Benedict for permission to quote the two paragraphs they wanted, but not the rest, or they did and he didn’t grant the rest, so they would have been obliged not to make the others known. This is really a non-issue.

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