ROME — After a tumultuous year that saw the first papal resignation in nearly six centuries, the election of Pope Francis, and a dramatic reshaping of the church’s style and tone, the man who set those wheels in motion has no regrets.
Indeed, Pope Benedict XVI, now retired and living in seclusion inside the Vatican, is at peace in his new role and believes history will vindicate his difficult eight-year papacy, his closest aide said in a rare interview.
“It is clear that humanly speaking, many times, it is painful to see that what is written about someone does not correspond concretely to what was done,” Archbishop Georg Ganswein said in an interview with the Reuters news agency on the anniversary of Benedict’s surprise announcement on Feb. 11, 2013, that he would resign.
“But the measure of one’s work, one’s way of doing things, is not (based on) what the mass media write but what is just before God and conscience.”
Benedict’s papacy is remembered for the unabated impact of clergy sex scandals, a controversy in which the pope’s butler leaked his personal papers to the media, and corruption and other abuses in the Roman Curia. But Ganswein said Benedict does not harbor resentment against his critics.
“History will offer a judgment that will be different than what one often read in the last years of (Benedict’s) pontificate,” Ganswein concluded.
The coming weeks will see several key anniversaries related to the papal transition: Feb. 28 marks the anniversary of Benedict’s actual resignation, which will be followed by the one year anniversary, on March 13, of the election of former Cardinal Jose Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis.
Image courtesy of Sergey Gabdurakhmanov.