Benedict XVI Speaks on Resignation Done ‘in Full Conscience’

Pope Emeritus Grants Interview to Italy’s Corriere della Sera

Pope Benedict's 70th Anniversary
Visit With Pope Benedict - Copyright: Vatican Media

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has dismissed conspiracy theories regarding his resignation, stressing his decision was “difficult,” but made “in full conscience.”

In an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the retired Pontiff discussed the historic resignation, and reiterated: “There are not two popes.”

Benedict was the first pope in some six centuries to step down as Successor of Peter, and yesterday, Feb. 28, marked eight years since the resignation became effective and the sede vacante began.

On this decision, the former German pontiff says, he has no regrets.

He also reiterates that declining health and energy remained the reasons for doing so.

“I believe I did well,” Benedict said. “Some of my friends who are a bit ‘fanatical’ are still angry; they did not want to accept my choice. I am thinking about the conspiracy theories which followed it: those who said it was because of the Vatileaks scandal, those who said it was because of the case of the conservative Lefebvrian theologian, Richard Williamson. They did not want to believe it was a conscious decision, but my conscience is clear.”

Moreover, Benedict discussed Pope Francis’ imminent March 5-8 visit to Iraq.

While acknowledging “it is a very important trip,” he recognized: “Unfortunately, it comes at a very difficult time that also makes it a dangerous trip for security reasons and also because of Covid-19. There is also the unstable Iraqi situation.”

“I will accompany Francis with my prayers,” the Pope Emeritus said.


Below is the Vatican-provided text of Pope Benedict’s Feb. 11, 2013, words announcing his resignation:

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects.  And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013


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