Updated: Benedict XVI says there is ‘inner continuity’ between himself, Pope Francis

By Hannah Brockhaus

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Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Credit: L'Osservatore Romano

In a personal letter reportedly sent to the head of the Secretariat for Communications, Benedict XVI said that he sees continuity between himself and his successor, Pope Francis.

The letter, according to a press release from the Secretariat March 12, was sent to Msgr. Dario Vigano on the occasion of the release of a series of books called “La Teologia di Papa Francesco” (“The Theology of Pope Francis”) published by the Vatican’s publishing house.

The books “show rightly that Pope Francis is a man of profound philosophical and theological formation and, therefore, help to show the inner continuity between the two pontificates, even with all of the differences of style and temperament,” Benedict wrote.

“I applaud this initiative that wishes to oppose and react to the foolish prejudice that Pope Francis is only a practical man lacking in particular theological or philosophical formation,” he continued, “while I am only a theorist of theology that has understood little of the concrete life of a Christian today.”

Excerpts from the letter were included in the Secretariat’s press release, though it was not available in its entirety.

The eleven-book series was written by international theologians and edited by Fr. Roberto Repole, president of the Italian Theological Association.

There are currently agreements for the books to be published in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Polish and Romanian.

Update: The full text of Benedict XVI's letter has since been published at Settimo Cielo, and translated into English by Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register. Please find below Pentin's translation:


Rev. Mons. Dario Edoardo Viganò
Prefect, Secretariat for Communication
Vatican City

February 9, 2018

Rev. Monsignor,

Thank you for your kind letter of 12 January and the attached gift of the eleven small volumes edited by Roberto Repole.

I applaud this initiative that wants to oppose and react to the foolish prejudice in which Pope Francis is just a practical man without particular theological or philosophical formation, while I have been only a theorist of theology with little understanding of the concrete life of a Christian today.

The small volumes show, rightly, that Pope Francis is a man of profound philosophical and theological formation, and they therefore help to see the inner continuity between the two pontificates, despite all the differences of style and temperament.

However, I don’t feel like writing a short and dense theological passage on them because throughout my life it has always been clear that I would write and express myself only on books I had read really well. Unfortunately, if only for physical reasons, I am unable to read the eleven volumes in the near future, especially as other commitments await me that I have already made.

I am sure you will understand and cordially greet you.

Yours,

Benedict XVI

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