In New Book, Benedict XVI Responds to Cardinal Marx Criticisms That His Papacy Was Characterized By Excesses

September 14, 2016

In New Book, Benedict XVI Responds to Cardinal Marx Criticisms That His Papacy Was Characterized By Excesses

By Andrew Parrish


MUNICH – A new book of interviews with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has just been released in Munich. The interviews were conducted by the Pope's biographer, Peter Seewald, and presented by Georg Gänswein, the former Pope's personal secretary. Among other remarks on his papacy, the Pope Emeritus rejects criticism that his papacy was “flamboyant” and “characterized by excesses”. This is a response in particular to Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who accused the Pope of turning the Roman curia into his “court”, shortly before the Papal resignation of 2013. 

The publication of the book has delivered a strong response. Benedict, in interview, comments that he does not know what Cardinal Marx might have been referring to. “I have always lived simply, always, ever since my childhood,” he said. Gänswein took the opportunity of the book's release to defend the Pope further. “One should be careful of making statements or valuations of a situation that one does not know well,” he stated, referring indirectly to Cardinal Marx's remarks. 

Gänswein, continuing this critique, called Cardinal Marx's opinions about the Curia “astonishing”. He revealed the Pope's harsh self-criticism in private, saying that “he continually demythifies himself”. The Pope Emeritus has never shown himself so fully human as in this latest work, “with his great strengths and small weaknesses and infirmities”. Gänswein explicitly rejected the prevalent and lasting image of Benedict XVI as the “Grand Inquisitor” or the “Panzerkardinal”. 

The Pope's secretary also remarked that the resignation of the Pope was paralleled by a youthful episode in the life of Joseph Ratzinger – desertion from the Wehrmacht at the end of World War II. Ratzinger, a forced conscript who opposed Nazism, risked the death penalty in so doing. “This experience of youth is probably a veiled key to understanding his resignation in 2013, when he decided for the second time to quietly go home”, Gänswein said. 

“Last Remarks” (Letzte Gespräche) has been published by Droemer Knaur V.G. of Munich. In the book, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI addresses many of the most controversial issues of his papacy, including his stance on Islam, his relationship with the Jews, SSPX, and other groups, and the background of his resignation. It is available worldwide.


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By Andrew Parrish

Andrew Parrish is a 2015 graduate of the Catholic University of Lublin in Poland. He holds a BA in Philosophy.

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