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New book shows 'astounding measure of self-criticism' by Benedict XVI, says Archbishop Gänswein

September 13, 2016

The longtime private secretary to Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI said that a new book-length interview with the retired Pontiff gives remarkable insights into the thought of the retired Pope.

Archbishop Georg Gänswein, speaking at the launch of Last Testament, called attention to Benedict's discussion of his decision to resign, and his candid acknowledgment of his own weaknesses-- including a failure to govern decisively and poor judgment of character. 

The archbishop said that he felt a sense of deja vu when he read the former Pope's story about walking away a Nazi Youth group, despite the knowledge that he might be executed for desertion. He just "decided to go home" in spite of the risk. Archbishop Gänswein concluded that when he made the decision to resign in 2012, he showed the same confidence, "a second time, and calmly 'decided to go home.'"

Archbishop Gänswein reveals that although he worked with the Pontiff for years, he was not aware until he read the book that Benedict suffered reduced vision in his left eye after an operation in 1994. "He never made a fuss about it," the archbishop said. "The half-blind Pope: who knew?"


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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Sep. 14, 2016 3:09 PM ET USA

    From the cited NCR source article, in 1998 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said: "'End of April, beginning of May 1945, I decided to go home.' ...Joseph Ratzinger was 17 years old in 1945 and conscripted at one of the anti-aircraft sites in the vicinity of his home. 'In reality, it was desertion,...which was punishable by death.'" A review of the just-war criteria would show that this act of defiance by the young Cardinal Ratzinger was an appropriate response by a noncombatant to Nazi aggression.