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Benedict pays tribute to Francis

Benedict XVI defended the continuity of the two papacies (CNS)

On the eve of the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’s election, Benedict XVI dismissed those who contrast his pontificate with Pope Francis. Benedict said that he is not a mere theologian, nor is Francis only a pastor.

In a letter sent to Mgr Dario Viganò, prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for Communication, Benedict applauded the publication of a new book series entitled, 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 pope wrote.

Mgr Viganò read the letter during a presentation of the 11-volume series on Monday.

Before reading the letter, Mgr Viganò said he sent a message to Pope Francis and Benedict XVI regarding the publication of the book series.
He asked if Benedict would be “willing to write a page or a page and a half of dense theology in his clear and punctual style that [I] would have liked to read this evening”.

Instead, the retired pontiff “wrote a beautiful, personal letter that I will read to you”, Mgr Viganò said.

Benedict wrote: “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.”

Benedict XVI has praised Pope Francis previously. During a Vatican celebration for the 65th anniversary of his priestly ordination, he said: “More than the beauty found in the Vatican Gardens, your goodness is the place where I live; I feel protected.”

Pope hails German cardinal who ‘shaped the Church’

Cardinal Karl Lehmann, president of the German bishops’ conference for 21 years and a theologian who took part in the Second Vatican Council, has died aged 81.

In a telegram Pope Francis expressed his condolences and said the late cardinal’s service had “shaped the life of the Church and society”.

“He always cared about being open to the questions and challenges of the day and about offering responses and guidance based on Christ’s message in order to accompany people along their journey, seeking that which unites beyond the confines of religious denominations, beliefs and nations,” he said.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German bishops’ conference, said Germany had lost a “warm-hearted and humane bishop, distinguished by his great power of speaking”.

“I well remember our first encounters, which were distinctive for warmth and frankness, and above all for enthusiasm for theological debate,” he said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called the cardinal “an exceptionally gifted mediator” and said she was “deeply grateful” for her conversations with him.

Activists target Madrid churches

Churches in Madrid were attacked with graffiti during a “feminist strike” as part of International Women’s Day last week.

The churches of Espíritu Santo and San Cristóbal were covered in pro-abortion slogans, feminist symbols and blasphemous messages, causing the Archdiocese of Madrid to condemn the “attack on the heritage of the faithful”. The graffiti read: “Abortion yes”, “Free abortion” and “Get your rosaries off our ovaries”.