The death of Benedict XVI, on December 31, sparked a violent crossfire between warring factions in the Church that culminated in the unusual publication of a memoir by his personal secretary, Georg Ganswein.
A juicy collection of the pope emeritus' hitherto unknown moments and views, the post came at a commercially perfect time, but a bit raunchy given the proximity of his passing.
Its author also gave several interviews criticizing some of Francisco's positions and assured that Benedict XVI had been "very upset" when he learned of the current Pontiff's decision to ban the Latin Mass for the pre-conciliar rite.
The Pope answered for the first time, on the plane that was taking him back from South Sudan to Rome, he was at 10,000 feet.
He did it without the usual Vatican niceties.
“That he was upset is Chinese tales”, he launched into the traditional press conference on the papal plane.
Francisco, upset with the attacks received by the conservative sector after the death of the emeritus pope, was also clear with his opinion regarding what happened in the last month.
“His death has been instrumentalized by people who want to bring water to his mill.
The people who exploit such a good person, a Holy Father of God... These people have no ethics: they are party people, not Church people.
The tendency to do party theology can be seen everywhere.
But I put these things aside, because they will not prosper, they will fall under their own weight, as in the rest of the history of the Church, ”he told reporters.
In addition to Ganswein's book, that of Cardinal Müller, former prefect for the Doctrine of the Faith and declared opponent of the Pope, has also just been published.
It also criticizes some theological positions,
Francisco also gave details of the complicity relationship he had with his predecessor and how he always supported him in difficult moments or doubts, denying the version offered by his opponents.
“I was able to talk about everything with him and exchange opinions.
And he was always by my side, supporting me.
If he had any difficulties he would tell me and there were no problems.
I once spoke about gay marriage.
I said it's a sacrament and we can't do a sacrament, but one possibility is to ensure their well-being through civil union laws.
So, someone went to see Benedict XVI, through a friend of his, to denounce me.
Benedict was not scared, he called four top-level theologian cardinals and told them: 'Explain this to me.'
They explained it to him, and so the story ended.
It is an anecdote to see how Benedicto moved when there was a complaint.
I consulted him for some decisions and he always agreed.
Regarding homosexuality, Francisco also expanded on some words that he pronounced in a recent interview with the AP news agency, where he criticized the countries that criminalize it, although he maintained the idea that it is a sin.
This time he went further and assured that "condemning a homosexual person is a sin."
“The calculation is that more or less 50 countries in one way or another do [punish homosexuality].
And about 10 include the death penalty.
This is not fair.
People with a homosexual tendency are children of God;
God loves them and accompanies them.
Criminalizing people with homosexual tendencies is an injustice."
"Weed never dies"
Francisco also cleared up some doubts about his state of health and the possibility of a close resignation that could follow in the footsteps of Benedict XVI, when he made the decision to retire in 2013. "Weeds never die," he joked.
“I am not like at the beginning of the pontificate.
This annoying knee, but little by little it's getting better.
The Pope assured that he is well and that he has planned trips for next year, including one to India and another to Mongolia by the end of 2023.
In addition, Francis insisted on his intention to travel to Ukraine and meet with the kyiv government, provided it could be a double trip with a stop in Moscow to do the same with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Vatican has always been very careful not to make any diplomatic gesture that could place it in a compromising situation when it comes to claiming a mediating role.
In any case, the perspective that the Pope contemplates, especially with regard to his travels, eliminates at a stroke the rumors of a possible resignation, now that the path has been cleared after the death of Benedict XVI.
Apart from his knee problems, and as he himself has said in his latest interviews, the Pope is fine.
"The Church is governed with the head, not with the knee," he concluded in a recent interview.
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