It was Pope Benedict XVI who realised that the terrible sexual abuse long perpetrated by priests around the world had to be stopped - it stained their principles, betrayed their faith, and caused untold suffering. Elderly and not in good health, Benedict did not feel fit enough to lead the war on abuse since declared by Pope Francis.
Which is why, on 11 February 2013, Benedict XVI resigned, the first time a Pope had taken such a step since December 13, 1294 and the resignation of Celestino V. Pope Benedict - Joseph Ratzinger from Germany - justified his decision by admitting that he did not feel able to face up to the battles that the Church would have to fight. Five years later, a part of the episcopate opposed to Pope Francis - Jorge Bergoglio from Argentina - is accusing his predecessor of betraying the mission entrusted to him by the Holy Spirit.
"A Pope does not come down from the Cross", says Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, special secretary throughout his pontificate to Karol Wojtila, and now Bishop of Krakow. "Despite the suffering of the body, John Paul II did not hesitate to go to the end".
The attacks on the Pope Emeritus five years after his resignation come from conservative circles in the Church. They accuse him of allowing the election of Bergoglio, who is subverting the old Vatican establishment and revealing the rot within some religious schools, so that in many parts of the world - especially the United States - even Sunday services are less and less well attended.
Since Pope Francis is unassailable due to his global popularity, conservatives are venting their anger on the previous Pope who entrusted Bergoglio with the task of cleaning up the filth. Not even the campaign of denigration led by Monsignor Viganò, former apostolic nuncio to Washington, accusing Pope Francis of having concealed some acts of paedophilia, has had any impact.
Benedict XVI’s response has been stern: there is too much anger directed at me, he says, especially from people who worked next to me and whom I thought friends. An anonymous letter a few months ago, thought to be from the German Cardinal Walter Brandmüiller, 89, expressed doubts about the decision by Ratzinger to grant communion to divorced couples.
The criticisms of the Pope Emeritus were intended to draw him towards the conservatives and use him as a weapon against his successor. "But Benedict XVI defends the work of Pope Francis”, says Monsignor Georg Gänswein, current prefect of the Pontifical Household and former secretary to Ratzinger, who asks what better solution there was to address the serious problems he entrusted to Francis, who is now solving them.
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