Vatican city: Former Pope Benedict says in his memoirs that no one pressured him to resign but alleges that a “gay lobby” in the Vatican had tried to influence decisions, a leading Italian daily reported on Friday.
The book, called The Last Conversations, is the first time in history that a former pope judges his own pontificate after it is over. It is due to be published on September 9.
Citing health reasons, Pope Benedict in 2013 became the first pope in six centuries to resign. He promised to remain “hidden to the world” and has been living in a former convent in the Vatican gardens.
Italy’s Corriere della Sera daily, which has acquired the rights for excerpts and has access to the book, ran a long article on Friday, summarising its key points.
In the book, Pope Benedict says that he came to know of the presence of a “gay lobby” made up of four or five people who were seeking to influence Vatican decisions and he managed to “break up this power group”.
Pope Benedict resigned following a turbulent papacy that included the so-call “Vatileaks” case, in which his butler leaked some of his personal letters and other documents that alleged corruption and a power struggle in the Vatican.
Italian media at the time reported that a faction of prelates who wanted to discredit Pope Benedict and pressure him to resign was behind the leaks.
The Church has maintained its centuries-long opposition to homosexual acts. But rights campaigners have long said many gay people work for the Vatican and Church sources have said they suspect that some have banded together to support each other’s careers and influence decisions in the bureaucracy.
Pope Benedict, who now has the title “Emeritus Pope,” has always maintained that he made his choice to leave freely and Corriere says that in the book the Pope “again denies blackmail or pressure”. He says he told only a few people close to him of his intention to resign, fearing it would be leaked before he made the surprise announcement.
The former Pope says he had to overcome his own doubts on the effect his choice could have on the future of the papacy.
He says that he was “incredulous” when cardinals meeting in a secret conclave chose him to succeed the late Pope John Paul II in 2005 and that he was “surprised” when the cardinals chose Pope Francis as his successor in 2013.
Anger over the dysfunctional state of the Vatican bureaucracy in 2013 was one factor in the cardinal electors’ decision to choose a non-European pope for the first time in nearly 1,300 years.
Benedict “admits his lack of resoluteness in governing,” Corriere says....