Benedict XVI still meets. Bishops, scientists and companions. The physical health of the pope emeritus is getting heavier, says journalist Peter Seewald. All the world still wants to meet him, Seewald said.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. continues to be a sought-after interlocutor, according to German journalist Peter Seewald. "Bishops, scientists, companions, simple believers, statesmen, all the world still wants to see him," Seewald, who visited Benedict in Rome shortly before Christmas, said in an interview with the Austrian daily Kurier (Sunday). Benedict has a special charisma. "He has the aura of someone who has come very close to God," Seewald said.
Physically tired – spiritually awake
Asked what impression he had of the 90-year-old’s state of health, the publicist and author said: "At first glance, not a good one."In October, Benedict had fallen and injured his face. Previously he had fractured a vertebrae. "The blisters have healed in the meantime, but walking is becoming increasingly difficult for him." Benedict speaks "softly, but is very alert and focused and always friendly and humorous," Seewald said.
He also reported that meetings between Pope Francis and his predecessor were now "relatively rare". Francis, however, likes to write to Benedict XVI., Both get along well, according to Benedict. Asked if Benedict interferes in important ies at the Vatican, Seewald said, "There is only one pope. But of course the papa emerito worries about the state of Christianity in Europe, especially the situation of his church."
Question of style and identity
The journalist added: "The differences between Benedict’s pontificate and that of Francis are becoming more and more evident. It is not only a different style, it is also about identity and line, about the question of whether there are still any certainties at all in the faith of the Catholic Church?" Benedict, however, is not a "shadow pope," he does not comment on the actions of Pope Francis and does not interfere.
Seewald called attempts to play the two popes off against each other "ridiculous". He recalled that already as bishop of Buenos Aires, Francis had no problem with authority and was able to take tough action at that time. Seewald added: "As far as personnel decisions and personnel management by Francis are concerned, many observers have become pensive. The fact that former confidants of Pope Benedict are falling behind cannot be overlooked."
Seewald had published a lengthy interview with Benedict in book form in 2016 under the title "Last Conversations".