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Did timing of World Cup influence Pope Benedict’s resignation

October 03, 2016

Pope Benedict XVI might have remained in office for another year, if the World Cup had not been scheduled to be hosted by Rio de Janeiro in 2014, according to Archbishop Georg Gänswein.

The longtime private secretary to Pope Benedict explained that World Youth Day would have been held in Rio in 2014, if the usual pattern had been followed. (The worldwide celebration is ordinarily held every three years, and the previous event had been held in Sydney, Australia, in 2011.) However, because Rio was also chosen as the host for the 2014 World Cup, Church officials moved World Youth Day forward by a year, to avoid a conflict.

Pope Benedict has disclosed that he made the decision to resign after realizing that his health would not permit him to make the long overseas trip to Brazil for World Youth Day. If the event had been scheduled for 2014, Archbishop Ganswein said, the Pontiff might have delayed his resignation for another year.

(The Washington Post gives this story an odd headline, conveying the misleading impression that Pope Benedict might have resigned because of his interest in the 2014 World Cup. In fact it is well known that the retired Pope has no interest in soccer.)


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