World & Vatican
Retired pope says governance wasn’t his gift, but Francis is good at it
September 12th, 2016
By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY – While retired Pope Benedict XVI said organization and governance are not his strong suits, he also said, “I am unable to see myself as a failure.”
In a book-length interview with the German author Peter Seewald, Pope Benedict said that when he resigned he had the “peace of someone who had overcome difficulty” and “could tranquilly pass the helm to the one who came next.”
The new book, “Last Testament,” will be released in English by Bloomsbury in November. The German and Italian editions were in bookstores Sept. 9, but some excerpts were published Sept. 8 by the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera.
Pope Benedict insisted once again that he was not pressured by anyone or any event to resign and he did not feel he was running away from any problem.
“My weak point perhaps is a lack of resolve in governing and making decisions,” he said. “Here, in reality, I am more a professor, one who reflects and meditates on spiritual questions. Practical governance was not my forte and this certainly was a weakness.”
Pope Francis, on the other hand, “is a man of practical reform,” the retired pope said. His personality and experience as a Jesuit provincial and archbishop have enabled him to take practical organizational steps.
The retired pope, who is 89, said he had no inkling that then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio would be elected his successor; “no one expected him.”
“When I first heard his name, I was unsure,” he said. “But when I saw how he spoke with God and with people, I truly was content. And happy.”
The retired pope, who has had a pacemaker since 1997 and can no longer see out of his left eye, told Seewald that preparing for death is part of his daily routine. It’s not a matter of getting his earthly affairs in order, he said, “but of preparing to pass the ultimate examination before God.”
The only writing the retired pope does these days, he told Seewald, is a Sunday homily each week.
“You write sermons for four or five people?” Seewald asked. “Why not?” the retired pope replied. “Whether there are three or 20 or 1,000 (people), the word of God must always be present to people.”
From September 15, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.