BENEDICT XVI ON “INTERIOR CONTINUITY” OF TWO PONTIFICATES

BENEDICT XVI ON “INTERIOR CONTINUITY” OF TWO PONTIFICATES

You saw the March 12 story from Vaticannews.va that I posted on Facebook about a letter from Pope emeritus Benedict XVI to Msgr. Dario Eduardo Vigano, prefect of the Secretariat for Communication in which the former Pope indicates an “interior continuity” between his pontificate and that of Francis.

Msgr. Vigano read two paragraphs of the papal letter to the guests present for the presentation of 11 small volumes entitled “The Theology of Pope Francis.”

The February 7 letter from Benedict XVI was in response to a letter sent to him by Msgr. Vigano on January 12,

That vaticannews.va story cited only two paragraphs of Benedict XVI’s response to Msgr. Vigano:

“I applaud this initiative,” writes Pope Benedict. “It contradicts the foolish prejudice of those who see Pope Francis as someone who lacks a particular theological and philosophical formation, while I would have been solely a theorist of theology with little understanding of the concrete lives of today’s Christian.”

“The Pope Emeritus writes that he is grateful to have received the set of 11 books edited by Roberto Repole, President of the Italian Theological Association. Pope Benedict XVI adds that these volumes “reasonably demonstrate that Pope Francis is a man with profound philosophical and theological formation and are helpful to see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, even with all the differences in style and temperament.”

Vaticanista Sandro Magister notes in Italian in his blog post today, Settimo Cielo, that this exchange of letters was only made public on the vigil of the 5th anniversary of Pope Francis’ election “as if it was a grade, a good one” for his successor’s pontificate. He said people can “read into it what they want” about the unpublished fourth and final paragraph of Benedict’s letter.

Magister published the entire letter and the following is my translation from the Italian:

Benedict XVI
Pope Emeritus
Rev. Msgr. Dario Edoardo Vigano
Prefect of the Secretariat for Communication
Vatican City
7 February 2018

Most Rev. Monsignor,

I thank you for your courteous letter of January 12 and for the attached gift of the 11 small volumes edited by Robert Repole.

I applaud this initiative that wishes to contradict the foolish prejudice of those for whom Pope Francis would be a man lacking a particular theological and philosophical formation, while I would have been solely a theoretician of theology who understood little of the concrete lives of today’s Christian.

These small volumes demonstrate, rightly so, that Pope Francis is a man of deep philosophical and theological formation and they help us therefore to see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, even with all the differences in style and temperament.”

In any case, I do not feel like writing about (these volumes) a brief or even dense theological page because, throughout my whole life, it has always been clear that I would have written or would have expressed myself only about books that I have truly read. Unfortunately, also for physical reasons, I am not able to read these eleven little volumes in the near future, and even more so because other commitments that I have already made await me.

I am certain you will understand, and I greet you cordially,

Yours,
Benedict XVI

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