VATICAN CITY — The Italian newspaper La Stampa today has published excerpts of a letter from Benedict XVI, who wrote to affirm the existence of only one pope, Francis.
“There is absolutely no doubt regarding the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry,” wrote Benedict XVI in a letter published on Feb. 26.
His letter was a response to the Italian daily’s inquiries regarding “various interpretations that have been circulating in the press and on the Web regarding his gesture,” the article noted. Some have questioned whether or not Benedict XVI’s resignation was valid, a speculation the pope emeritus roundly rejected.
“The only condition for the validity of my resignation is the complete freedom of my decision. Speculations regarding its validity are simply absurd,” he wrote.
The article’s author, Vatican expert Andrea Tornielli, described Benedict XVI’s words as “brief and to the point.”
The retired pope made a surprise appearance at Feb. 22’s consistory that created 19 new cardinals. He sat slightly apart and wore his customary white garments, rather than the red of a typical cardinal.
Benedict’s letter to La Stampa addressed his choice of clothing and the speculation surrounding what it might indicate.
“I continue to wear the white cassock and kept the name Benedict for purely practical reasons. At the moment of my resignation, there were no other clothes available. In any case, I wear the white cassock in a visibly different way to how the Pope wears it. This is another case of completely unfounded speculations being made,” he wrote.
According to today’s article, the Italian newspaper had also queried Benedict XVI about a letter he had written to Swiss theologian Hans Kung regarding Pope Francis.
Kung had quoted a passage of Benedict XVI’s letter as reading, “I’m grateful to be bound by a great identity of views and a heartfelt friendship with Pope Francis. Today, I see my last and final job to support his pontificate with prayer.”
Benedict responded to the newspaper’s question about the accuracy of such a quote by writing, “Professor Kung quoted the content of my letter to him word-for-word and correctly.”
The pope emeritus concluded by expressing that he hoped he had answered La Stampa’s questions in a “clear and adequate way.”