VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- On the eve of the fifth anniversary of
Pope Francis' election, retired Pope Benedict XVI defended the continuity of the
church's teaching under his successor and dismissed those who criticize the
pope's theological foundations.
In a letter sent to Msgr. Dario Vigano, prefect of the
Vatican Secretariat for Communication, Pope Benedict applauded the publication
of a new book series titled, "The Theology of Pope Francis."
"It contradicts the foolish prejudice of those who see
Pope Francis as someone who lacks a particular theological and philosophical
formation, while I would have been considered solely a theorist of theology
with little understanding of the concrete lives of today's Christian," the
retired pontiff wrote.
Msgr. Vigano read the letter during a presentation of the
11-volume series March 12.
Before reading the letter, Msgr. Vigano said he sent a
message to Pope Francis and Pope Benedict regarding the publication of the book
He also asked if Pope Benedict would be "willing to
write a page or a page and a half of dense theology in his clear and punctual
style that would have liked to read this evening."
Instead, the retired pontiff "wrote a beautiful,
personal letter that I will read to you," Msgr. Vigano said.
Pope Benedict thanked Msgr. Vigano for having given him a
copy of "The Theology of Pope Francis" book series, which was authored
by several notable theologians.
"These small volumes reasonably demonstrate that Pope
Francis is a man with profound philosophical and theological formation and are
helpful to see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, even with
all the differences in style and temperament," he wrote.
Pope Benedict has made no secret of his affection for and
admiration of Pope Francis.
During a Vatican celebration for the 65th anniversary of
Pope Benedict's priestly ordination June 28, 2016, the retired pope expressed
his sincere gratefulness to Pope Francis, saying that his goodness "from
the first moment of your election, in every moment of my life here, touches me
"More than the beauty found in the Vatican Gardens,
your goodness is the place where I live; I feel protected," Pope Benedict