Benedict won't be chaplain of anti-Francis backlash

Benedict protects Francis

It almost seems as if Pope Emeritus Benedict is trying to express, both visually and verbally, that he has no intention of becoming the chaplain of conservative backlash against his successor, Pope Francis, writes John Allen.

- The Boston Globe

For a Pope who vowed to remain 'hidden from the world,' Benedict XVI certainly has been in the spotlight a fair bit lately. Recent days have brought four noteworthy public expressions of Benedict’s support for the new regime.

First, his closest aide and confidante, German Archbishop Georg Gänswein, gave an interview to the Reuters news agency on February 9 in which he insisted that there’s 'a good feeling' between Francis and Benedict, and that the two men see one another often.

Second, Benedict XVI made a surprise appearance at a February 22 consistory ceremony in which Francis elevated 19 new cardinals into the Church’s most exclusive club, sitting in the front row and beaming during the event.

When Francis made his way over to wrap Benedict in a hug, the Pope Emeritus removed his white zucchetto, a skullcap that’s one of the symbols of the papal office — a small gesture that told insiders he was acknowledging Francis as the new boss.

Third, Benedict responded in writing to questions by veteran Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli concerning speculation that he’d been pressured to step down and therefore his resignation was invalid under Church law. Following that reasoning to its logical conclusion, it would suggest that Francis isn’t really the Pope.

Benedict dismissed the hypothesis as 'simply absurd.'

'I took this step in full awareness of its gravity and novelty but with profound serenity of spirit,' the Pope Emeritus wrote in comments published last week. 'Loving the Church also means having the courage to make difficult, painful choices, always keeping the good of the Church in mind and not ourselves.'

Fourth, Gänswein, who still acts as Benedict’s private secretary and who lives with the former Pope in a monastery on Vatican grounds, gave another interview to the Washington Post in which he said the two pontiffs didn’t know one another well at the beginning but are becoming steadily closer.

FULL STORY Pope Benedict moves to quash anti-Francis backlash (The Boston Globe)

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