Sunday, September 11, 2016

Benedict: Governance not my strong suit but Francis good at it his first substantial comments since retiring in 2013, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has said the work of governing the Church was not his "strong point" and that he had a weakness of "little resolve" before difficult decisions, reports NCR Online.

In the comments, published in a new book-length interview yesterday, Benedict also says that while there were difficult moments in his reign it was "also a period in which many people found a new life in the faith."

"A weak point of mine was maybe little resolve in governing and making decisions," he admits in the book, Ultime Conversazioni (Last Conversations), excerpted in Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper.

"In reality I am more a professor, one who reflects and mediates on spiritual questions," Benedict states. "Practical governance is not my strong point and this is certainly a weakness.

"But I do not see myself as a failure. For eight years I carried out my work."

The new book is based on conversations Benedict had after his retirement with German journalist Peter Seewald, with whom he also published a book-length interview during his papacy.

The English-language edition will carry the title Last Testament: In His Own Words, and be published on November 3.

In the excerpts, Benedict widely praises his successor Pope Francis, calling him "the man of practical reform."

"He was an archbishop for a long time, he knows the trade," the retired pope says of Francis. "He was a superior of Jesuits and has the ability to put his hands to action in an organised way. I knew that this was not my strong point."

Speaking to his 2005-13 reign as pontiff, Benedict admits there were "difficult moments," citing specifically three scandals: Continued questioning of the Church's handling of sexual abuse; his decision to lift the excommunication of traditionalist Bishop Richard Williamson, who denies aspects of the Holocaust; and the so-called Vatileaks trial at which his butler was found guilty of publishing secret documents.

Setting aside the scandals, he states, "it was also a period in which many people found a new life in the faith and there was also a great positive movement."

Benedict also says he was surprised by the March 2013 election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who took the name Francis, and initially he was unsure of the choice.

"No one expected him," says the retired pope. "I knew him, naturally, but I did not think of him. In this sense it was a big surprise. I did not think that he was in the select group of candidates.

"When I heard his name, initially I was insecure.

"But when I saw him speak on one hand with God, and on the other with people, I was truly content and happy," he continues, in an apparent reference to the memorable moment when Francis was introduced to crowds in St Peter's Square and bowed his head towards them and asked that they pray to God to bless him in his ministry.

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