“In Archbishop Georg Gänswein’s memoir, Nothing but the Truth — My Life Beside Benedict XVI, there are some passages which confirm that the pope emeritus, in relation to ethically sensitive issues, was in full harmony with the Magisterium of the Church and in significant discord with the magisterium of Pope Francis albeit presented with extreme grace and respect for the reigning pontiff.
For example, Gänswein recounts that Pope Francis, following the publication of his long interview with La Civilità Cattolica released in August 2013, asked Benedict XVI for his opinion. The latter replied:
“Actually I agree with everything you said, but in two points I would like to add a complementary aspect. The first point concerns the problems associated with abortion and the use of contraceptive methods. The second point concerns the problem of homosexuality” (p. 245).
The first point referred to the following passage from Francis’ interview: “We cannot insist only on the issues related to abortion, same-sex marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I didn’t talk much about these things, and I was reproached for this. But when you do talk about them, they need to be talked about in context. After all, the opinion of the Church is well known , and I am a child of the Church, but it is not necessary to talk about them all the time”.
It is also well known that Pope Francis considers these issues a thorn in his side because they create division due to the doctrine of the Church which is very clear on these aspects.”
Benedict XVI, taking into account the pope’s judgment on these issues (just the citation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church of which he was the main author suffices), deliberately did not take Francis head on, but chose the more appropriate, we could say, pedagogical path. With regard to abortion and contraception, he called Francis’ attention to the theological foundation, rather than a moral or social one, recalling that the battles undertaken by John Paul II in favour of life were battles first of all in defence of the Creator of life…
On homosexuality, the Pope Emeritus praised Francis’ willingness to find a “balance between respect for the person, pastoral love and the doctrine of the faith” (p. 246). Still, Benedict wanted to “add an aspect that results from the problems of public propaganda on this point. The philosophy of gender teaches that it is the single person who decides whether to become a man or a woman. Being a man or a woman is no longer a reality of nature that precedes us. Mankind is a product of itself. […] It is a radical denial of the Creator and a manipulation of being in which mankind is the only master of itself. This propaganda is not at all interested in the good of homosexual people, but in a deliberate manipulation of being and a radical denial of the Creator. I know that many homosexual people do not agree with these manipulations and feel that the problem of their life becomes a pretext for an ideological war. Therefore, strong and public resistance against this pressure is necessary”…
In summary, Benedict XVI lambasted Francis, while avoiding to give the impression he was in fact lambasting him. What for Francis was of secondary importance but which was critical due to the clear judgment of the doctrine, for Benedict was essential…”
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