Former Pope Benedict XVI asks for forgiveness, thanks God in last letter before death


Former Pope Benedict XVI, who died on Saturday in a Vatican monastery aged 95, asked for forgiveness for those he “wronged” in a spiritual testament published after his death.

Benedict, who was the first pontiff in nearly 600 years to resign rather than hold the position for life, died on Saturday, according to a Vatican statement.

He was elected pope in April 2005, after the death of John Paul II.

During the testament, which consisted of a letter containing the pope’s last words, Benedict spoke of the “many reasons” he had to be grateful for his life.

In the letter dated August 29, 2006, the former pope thanked God for guiding him “well” throughout life. He also expressed gratitude to his parents who he said gave him “life at a difficult time”.

He went on to thank his sister for her “selfless” help and his brother for the “clarity of judgment” she shared with him.

Benedict was known to be more conservative than his successor, Pope Francis, who made moves to soften the Vatican’s stance on abortion and homosexuality, as well as doing more to address the sex-abuse crisis that has engulfed the church in recent years and clouded Benedict’s status. legacy.

In April 2019, Benedict discussed the sexual abuse crisis in a public letter, arguing that it was caused in part by the sexual revolution of the 1960s and the loosening of the church’s moral teachings.

In January 2020, Benedict was forced to distance himself from a book widely seen as disparaging of Francis as he considered whether to allow married men to become priests in some cases. The book, “From the Depths of Our Hearts,” argued in favor of the centuries-old tradition of priestly celibacy within the Catholic Church. Benedict was initially listed as a co-author, but later clarified that he had contributed only a portion of the text.

A year later, Benedict came under fire during his tenure as archbishop of Munich and Freising, between 1977 and 1982, after the publication of a church-commissioned report into abuse by Catholic clergy there.

In the 2006 letter, the former pope “sincerely” asked for “forgiveness” for those he “wronged in any way,” in his letter.

In his last words, the former pontiff “humbly” asked, despite all his “sins and weaknesses”, that God would welcome him to heaven.

In a separate letter released by the Vatican in February 2022, Benedict issued a general apology to survivors of abuse, writing: “Once again I cannot but express to all victims of sexual abuse my deep shame, my deep sorrow and my sincere request for forgiveness,” but admitted no personal or specific wrongdoing.

There is no indication that his request for forgiveness in his latest letter is related to the Catholic Church’s handling of sexual abuse allegations against priests.

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