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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis: I believe that Benedict XVI's death has been instrumentalized

Returning from his trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, journalists asked Pope Francis if, after the death of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, he has noticed more tension in parts of the Church and if this has made it more difficult for him to govern.

He denied that the Pope emeritus was unhappy with Pope Francis' papacy and spoke of their relationship over the last 10 years:

I would like to say that I was able to talk about everything and exchange opinions with Pope Benedict. He was always by my side, supporting me. If he had any problems, he would tell me and we would talk. But there were no problems. Once we talked about the marriage of homosexual people, the fact that marriage is a sacrament and that we can't make a sacrament for them. But there is no problem in them owning property through civil law—this started in France, didn't it? I can't remember what it's called but civil law lets anyone make a civil union. It's not just for couples. Retired old women can form a civil union to gain many benefits. Someone who thinks he is a great theologian went to Benedict XVI and made a complaint against me, through a friend of the Pope emeritus. Benedict was not afraid. He called four theological cardinal experts and said, "Explain this to me." And they did. And that's how the story ended. It is an anecdote to show how Benedict responded when there was a problem. Some of the stories say that Benedict was bitter about what I, as the new pope, did...these are made up. I consulted him for some of the decisions I had to make. And he agreed with me. I think Benedict's death was instrumentalized by people who want to carry water to their own mill. And people who, in one way or another instrumentalize such a good person—a man of God, I would say a holy father of the Church—I would say these people are unethical. They are partisan people not Church people. You can see the tendency to make theological parties everywhere. These things will eventually go away on their own. If they don't, people will move on as has happened so many times in the Church's history. I want to clearly say who Pope Benedict was: he was not a bitter person.