Pope Emeritus Benedict is "at peace with himself" and believes his turbulent tenure at the helm of the Catholic Church will be vindicated by history, Archbishop Georg Ganswein told Reuters in a rare interview
“Pope Benedict is at peace with himself and I think he is even at peace with the Lord,” said Ganswein, who works for the former pope and is head of his household.
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After he was elected in April 2005, Pope Benedict was the first pontiff to resign his post in 600 years. Just as historic, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, was elected just a month later as the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years.
In the telephone interview, Ganswein said Pope Benedict is in good health and that his relationship with current Pope Francis is good as well. However, the weight of his eight years as head of the Catholic Church took their toll, causing Pope Benedict to make his historic resignation in February 2013, citing the physical and psychological toll the job in the Vatican was taking on him.
“I am certain, indeed convinced, that history will offer a judgment that will be different than what one often read in the last years of his pontificate,” Ganswein told Reuters.
Pope Benedict’s eight years as head of the Catholic Church were besieged with problems with much of the blame placed on the dysfunctional Vatican bureaucracy that included sex abuse scandals involving priests.
Earlier this month, a United Nations human rights committee said the Vatican "systematically" adopted policies that allowed priests to rape and molest tens of thousands of children over decades, The Associated Press reported. The report urged the Holy See
to open its files on pedophiles and bishops who concealed their crimes.
The media also saw Pope Benedict as distant and unapproachable, a far cry from the gregarious Pope John Paul II who was elected in 1978 and served as head of the Catholic Church until his death in 2005.
As far as his relationship with Pope Francis, Ganswein told Reuters that Pope Benedict and Pope Francis communicate well with each other.
"From the very start there was good contact between them and this good beginning developed and matured. They write to each other, they telephone each other, they talk to each other, they extend invitations to each other," Ganswein said.
Ganswein said Pope Benedict harbors no ill will toward his critics, spending his days in the Vatican gardens in a former convent and plans to live out the remainder of his life “hidden from the world” in prayer and isolation.
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