Pope Benedict opens up about 2013 resignation in new book due out in September

Pope Francis greets retired Pope Benedict XVI during a 28 June ceremony at the Vatican marking the 65th anniversary of the retired pope's priestly ordination. Photo: CNS/L'Osservatore Romano
Pope Francis greets retired Pope Benedict XVI during a 28 June ceremony at the Vatican marking the 65th anniversary of the retired pope’s priestly ordination. Photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano

Retired Pope Benedict XVI has given another interview to the journalist and author Peter Seewald, and a German publisher announced it would be released worldwide on 9 September.

Titled Letzte Gesprache, (which translates as “last conversations”), the book includes an in-depth conversation with the retired pope about the background of his resignation in 2013, said the German publisher, Droemer Knaur.

Information about an English translation and publisher was not immediately available.

The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, which has the rights to an Italian newsstand edition of the book, reported on 1 July that Pope Benedict admits to Seewald that he knew of “the presence of a ‘gay lobby’ in the Vatican composed of four or five people and he says he was able to remove their power”.

Pope Benedict also says he kept a diary during his pontificate, but he plans to destroy it, even though he knows that historians could find it valuable, Corriere reported.

On its website, Droemer said Pope Benedict speaks about the priorities of his pontificate, the VatiLeaks scandal, which saw the conviction and jailing of his butler, and about Pope Francis and the “controversial issues” of his papacy.

Pope Benedict discusses the challenges facing the Catholic Church today, but also looks back to memories of his family and formative events in his life, Droemer said.

The retired pope speaks of his “surprise” when Pope Francis was elected and his “joy” in seeing how the new pope prays in public and is able to communicate with a crowd, Corriere reported. He also discusses the ways in which he and Pope Francis are alike and are different.

Before he was elected pope, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger collaborated with Seewald on two book-length interviews: Salt of the Earth, published in German in 1996, and God and the World, published in German in 2000. As pope, he and Seewald released Light of the World in 2010.