Emeritus Pope Benedict, whose resignation shocked the world in 2013, has revealed that he fell in love during his student days in Germany and struggled with the concept of celibacy, according to The Times.
Peter Seewald, a German journalist who interviewed the Pope Emeritus for the book, told the newspaper Die Welt that Benedict, 89, told him he “fell in love . . . in a very serious way” as a student, adding, “he struggled with it very much.”
“He was really a very smart-looking guy, a handsome young man, an aesthete who wrote poetry and read Hermann Hesse. A fellow student told me he had quite an effect on women, and vice versa. The decision to choose celibacy wasn’t easy for him,” Seewald said.
Joseph Ratzinger, who took the title Benedict XVI, became the first pope to resign in 600 years, citing health reasons. He now lives a quiet life of prayer in a cottage in the Vatican gardens, occasionally meeting his successor, Pope Francis.
In his book, Final Conversations, Benedict claims he was not cut out to be a tough manager at the Holy See.
“Being less than resolute in governing and taking decisions is possibly my weak spot,” he said in excerpts published by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
“In truth, I am more of a professor who reflects and meditates on spiritual questions,” said the former pontiff, who had a pacemaker installed in 1997 and is blind in his left eye. “I don’t see myself as having failed. For eight years I did my duty.”
Benedict singled out his clash with the so-called gay lobby of “four or five” senior prelates said to be accumulating power inside the Vatican. “I was told about this group, which we dissolved,” he said.
At the time, Benedict brought in three cardinals to investigate, which he credited with smoking out the lobby.
“Will other groups form?” he asked. “I don’t know, but the Vatican is not swarming with similar groups.”