Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI was among those who were dissatisfied with Pope Paul VI's 1968 teaching prohibiting Catholics from using artificial birth control, according to interviews that have formed the basis of a new book, reports NCR Online.
In the new book, published in Italy on Friday, the Pope Emeritus says that while he agreed with the conclusions Paul drew in the encyclical Humanae Vitae, he had trouble with the argumentation.
"In the situation I was then in, and in the context of theological thinking in which I stood, Humanae Vitae was a difficult text for me," Benedict says in the book, to be published in the US on November 3 under the title Last Testament: In His Own Words.
"It was certainly clear that what it said was essentially valid, but the reasoning, for us at that time, and for me too, was not satisfactory," Benedict states.
"I was looking for a comprehensive anthropological viewpoint," he continues. "In fact, it was [Pope] John Paul II who was to complement the natural-law viewpoint of the encyclical with a personalistic vision."
The new book is based on conversations Benedict had with German journalist Peter Seewald, with whom he also published a book-length interview during his papacy.
In his introduction to the volume, Seewald says the interviews were conducted "shortly before and after" Benedict's 2013 resignation and that the retired Pope was given final approval over the text.
Benedict's mention of his struggles with the 1968 encyclical letter is one of a number of revelations made in the new book, particularly regarding his role in, and later interpretation of, Vatican II.
Photo: Benedict XVI at the Vatican in 2013 (CNS)