|World Youth Day got to him|
The Italian daily, La Repubblica just published an interview with Pope Emeritus Benedict by Elio Guerriero, editor of the Italian edition of Ratzinger's works and author of a forthcoming biography. Andrea Torneilli provided a short summary in English for Vatican Insider.
These are only excerpts, of course:
On Pope Francis:
Obedience to my successor has always been unquestionable. Then there is a sense of deep communion and friendship. The moment he was elected I felt, as many others did, a spontaneous sense of gratitude towards Providence. After two Pontiffs from Central Europe, the Lord set his eyes as it were on the universal Church and invited us towards a broader, more Catholic communion. I personally felt deeply touched right from the start by Pope Francis’ extraordinary human warmth towards me. He tried to reach me by phone right after his election. He wasn’t able to get hold of me so he tried again straight after the meeting with the universal Church from St. peter’s balcony and he spoke to me in a very cordial manner. Since then, he has given me the gift of a marvellous paternal and fraternal relationship. I often receive small gifts, letters written in person. Before undertaking any major trips, the Pope always comes to visit me. The human kindness he has shown me is for me a special grace in this final phase of my life, which I can only be grateful for. What he says about being close to other people are not just words. He puts them into practice with me. May he in turn feel the Lord’s kindness every day. For this, I pray for him to the Lord.
On Cuba and Raul Castro:
I need scarcely remind you of how impressed I was in Cuba to see the way in which Raul Castro wishes to lead his country onto a new path, without breaking with the immediate past. Here too, I was deeply impressed by the way in which my brothers in the Episcopate are striving to navigate through this difficult process, with the faith as their starting point.
On World Youth Day and his decision to resign:
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 (to WYD in Rio in the Summer of 2013). 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 the full summary here.
One would, I suppose, expect the Pope Emeritus to say nice things about Francis, though for faithful Catholics dreading each new day of the current pontificate, Benedict's overly effusive praise of Francis' election and his alleged quality of "being close to other people" are bound to grate.
Regarding being "impressed" by Raul Castro and the collaborationist episcopate in Cuba: Castro is a brutal communist tyrant who personally shot "counter-revolutionary" prisoners. The Cuban bishops are even now helping him suppress dissent, including dissent among Catholics. Would the younger anti-communist Benedict have ever made such outrageous statements?
Finally, that the universal head of the Catholic church felt it was his duty to resign (the first Pope in almost 600 years to do so) because he couldn't manage to attend an outdoor festival of Catholic teenagers in Brazil is of course insane.
I'm reminded of The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis. Everything you thought you could count on is going to pieces. Everyone you believed you could trust is betraying you.
A donkey is wearing a lion's coat.
Now that the Olympics are over, which largely occupied my mind for the last two weeks, I feel a profound sense of depression. There is no new good news about the Church. None. A donkey is wearing a lion's coat and the enemies of God are mocking and jeering.
What new deviltry will the next day bring?