VATICAN CITY (CNS) – While retired Pope Benedict XVI said governance was not his strong suit, he also said, “I am unable to see myself as a failure.”
In a book-length interview with the German author Peter Seewald, Pope Benedict said that when he resigned he had the “peace of someone who had overcome difficulty” and “could tranquilly pass the helm to the one who came next.”
Pope Benedict insisted once again that he was not pressured by anyone or any event to resign and he did not feel he was running away from any problem.
“My weak point perhaps is a lack of resolve in governing and making decisions,” he said. “Here, in reality, I am more a professor, one who reflects and meditates on spiritual questions. Practical governance was not my forte and this certainly was a weakness.”
Pope Francis, on the other hand, “is a man of practical reform,” the retired pope said. His personality and experience as a Jesuit provincial and archbishop have enabled him to take practical organizational steps.
The retired pope, who is 89, said he had no inkling that then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio would be elected his successor; “no one expected him.”
“When I first heard his name, I was unsure,” he said. “But when I saw how he spoke with God and with people, I truly was content. And happy.”
Pope Benedict said it made no impression on him that the brand new pope chose to appear on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica without wearing the ermine-lined red mozzetta or cape. “What did touch me, though, was that even before going out onto the loggia, he tried to phone me.”