Retired Pope says the destruction of a group of gay lobbyists at the Vatican was one of his biggest achievements in ground-breaking memoirs

  • Benedict XVI’s book, The Last Conversations, lifts the lid on his papacy
  • Despite turbulent eight years at the helm, he insists he is not a failure 
  • Back in 2013, Benedict became the first Pope to retire in 600 years
  • Book also opens up on his initial skepticism over his successor Francis

Retired Pope Benedict XVI has revealed the destruction of a group of gay lobbyists at the Vatican as one of his biggest achievements in a ground-breaking book. 

Excerpts from the memoirs have been published in Germany today, lifting the lid on a turbulent eight years as head of the Roman Catholic Church.

As well as his initial skepticism over his successor Pope Francis, he acknowledges the ‘difficult moments’ of his papacy — the sex abuse scandal which reignited in 2010, the scandal over his exoneration of a Holocaust-denying bishop, and finally the leaks of his personal papers by his own butler. 

Retired Pope Benedict XVI has revealed the destruction of a group of gay lobbyists at the Vatican as one of his biggest achievements in a ground-breaking book

Retired Pope Benedict XVI has revealed the destruction of a group of gay lobbyists at the Vatican as one of his biggest achievements in a ground-breaking book

One governance success was the dissolution of the so-called ‘gay lobby’ in the Vatican, Benedict said.

The existence of this group of gay prelates — who purportedly used blackmail to promote and preserve their interests — has been mythologized in Italian media, particularly after Benedict named a commission of three cardinals to investigate the leaks of his papers in 2012.

When asked by his biographer if such a clique existed, Benedict said: ‘Indeed a group was pointed out to me, in the meantime we have dissolved it.

‘This was mentioned in the report by the commission (of three cardinals), who were able to nail down a small group of four or five people maybe, which we dissolved. 

‘I don’t know whether something new will form again. 

‘In any case, it’s not like there are things like this all over the place.’

 As well as his initial skepticism over his successor Pope Francis (pictured, right), Benedict (pictured, left) acknowledges the 'difficult moments' of his papacy — the sex abuse scandal which reignited in 2010, the scandal over his exoneration of a Holocaust-denying bishop, and finally the leaks of his personal papers by his own butler

 As well as his initial skepticism over his successor Pope Francis (pictured, right), Benedict (pictured, left) acknowledges the ‘difficult moments’ of his papacy — the sex abuse scandal which reignited in 2010, the scandal over his exoneration of a Holocaust-denying bishop, and finally the leaks of his personal papers by his own butler

In a first-ever book by a retired pope reflecting on his papacy, Benedict also says he was shocked, and initially uncertain, about the election of Pope Francis as his successor. 

But he said he immediately realized the significance of electing a Latin American pope and has been very happy with Francis’ papacy.

Excerpts of the book, titled ‘The Last Conversations,’ were published Thursday in Italian daily Corriere della Sera and German weekly Die Zeit and daily Bild. 

The book was prepared as a long interview with German journalist Peter Seewald, who has conducted several interviews with Benedict from the time he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

It is being published just weeks after a major biography of Benedict that included a foreward written by Francis was released, suggesting something of a lifetime bookend for the German theologian, who will turn 90 in April.  

‘Practical governance is not a strong point, and this certainly is a weakness,’ Benedict told Seewald. 

‘But I don’t see myself as a failure. 

‘For eight years I did my service’ and many people found a new path to their faith, he said.

Excerpts of a new book, 'The Last Conversations', by Benedict where the retired pope offers final reflections on papacy, were published today. He became the first pope in 600 years to retire in 2013

Excerpts of a new book, ‘The Last Conversations’, by Benedict where the retired pope offers final reflections on papacy, were published today. He became the first pope in 600 years to retire in 2013

Benedict became the first pope in 600 years to retire in 2013.

He has been living a quiet life of prayer and keeping up his correspondence in a converted monastery in the Vatican gardens.

He said he was preparing for his own death by getting ready to encounter God.

‘The important thing isn’t imagining it, but living with the knowledge that all our lives are headed toward this encounter,’ he said.  

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