Benedict XVI’s retirement “went badly”

A Retired Pope: A life devoted entirely to prayer and retirement was what Joseph Ratzinger wanted to live after his resignation in 2013. Instead, he was still the center of attention. For example in January 2022, during the presentation of the report on the abuses committed by the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising. Ratzinger’s management has been heavily criticized.

The theologian Wolfgang Beinert is a former student of Joseph Ratzinger. He would later become his assistant. And until the end he was a close companion but also a critic of the pope emeritus. Of Benedikt’s retirement years, Beinert says:

“The period after his resignation went badly, as a whole.” Wolfgang Beinert, student of Ratzinger

Ratzinger student: “There can only be one pope”

Wolfgang Beinert fears that the last few years will determine how posterity looks at Ratzinger’s work: the dispute over the Munich abuse report, the fruitless statements. When he resigned, Benoît announced that he wanted to live “hidden from the world”.

“He should have been silent because there can only be one pope,” Beinert says. “There is always a danger, and he probably succumbed to it, that his statements will be exploited. That he may have been asked to do it and he said in his kindness ‘I will do it’ and so simply caused damage. That cannot be denied.”

Alleged interference in the politics of Pope Francis

Some texts published by the pope emeritus are understood as interference in the policy of his successor. Even if these were always published only after consultation with François. In 2019, Joseph Ratzinger sees the starting point of the ecclesiastical abuse scandal in the sexual revolution of the 1960s and not in the structures of the Catholic Church.

In January 2020, the ultra-conservative Cardinal Robert Sarah published a book on celibacy, and Benoît wrote an article. This is also interpreted as interference in an ongoing ecclesiastical political debate. Benoît’s biographer Peter Seewald is wrong: “It must be difficult for a passionate writer not to publish anymore. On the other hand, he was meticulous not to hinder his successor, to whom he had sworn obedience. that.”

Abuse report: “The elongated building collapsed with a bang”

And then January 2022. On behalf of the archdiocese, a Munich law firm had filed an expert report accusing the former archbishop of Munich and Freising, Joseph Ratzinger, of misconduct in four cases of abuse. Matthias Katsch, spokesperson for the Eckiger Tisch Victims Association, said after the publication:

“We have just seen live how the edifice of lies that has been built here and for the universal church around Pope Benedict has collapsed with a crash.” Matthias Katsch, Eckiger Tisch Victims Association

The ‘construction of the lie’: In his response to experts, the pope emeritus makes a false statement, saying he was not present at a meeting during which a decision was made on the transfer of a subsequent attacker . However, a newspaper proves its presence. Joseph Ratzinger apologizes for this “oversight”, but he does not want to take personal responsibility for the work of the offending priest. To the great regret of Wolfgang Beinert, who would have liked a “request for forgiveness”. But the “never fell”.

Gänswein considers Germany’s criticism unjustified

In recent years, Joseph Ratzinger is losing more and more strength: according to those around him, he is “clear in the head”, but his voice is weakening, he is dependent on a wheelchair and needs help. Thus, criticism of Benedict XVI always reaches his secretary Georg Gänswein, who has acted as a sort of spokesman for the pope emeritus in recent years.

Archbishop Gänswein explained to an Italian magazine shortly before his milestone birthday that the allegations against Benedict XVI were completely unfounded. But there is a tendency in the German-speaking world which tries “to attack the theological work of Ratzinger and also to hurt the person”.

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