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Former Pope Benedict XVI begs for forgiveness, thanks God in last letter before his death

Former Pope Benedict XVI begs for forgiveness, thanks God in last letter before his death

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CNN

Former Pope Benedict XVI, who died Saturday in a Vatican monastery at the age of 95, asked for forgiveness for those he “wronged” in a spiritual testament published after his death.

Benedict, who was the first pontiff in almost 600 years to resign rather than hold the office for life, died on Saturday, according to a Vatican statement.

He was elected Pope in April 2005 after the death of John Paul II.

During the testament, which consisted of a letter containing the pope’s last words, Benedict spoke of the “many reasons” he had to be grateful for his life.

In the letter dated August 29, 2006, the former pope thanked God for guiding him “well” throughout his life. He also expressed gratitude to his parents, who he said gave him “life at a difficult time.”

He went on to thank his sister for her “selfless” help and his brother for the “clarity of judgment” she shared with him.

Benedict is known to be more conservative than his successor, Pope Francis, who took steps to soften the Vatican’s stance on abortion and homosexuality, as well as doing more to address the sexual-abuse crisis that has engulfed the church in recent years and clouded the position of Benedict’s legacy.

In April 2019, Benedict discussed the sexual abuse crisis in a public letter, arguing that it was caused in part by the sexual revolution of the 1960s and the liberalization of the church’s moral teachings.

In January 2020, Benedict was forced to distance himself from a book seen as undermining Francis as he considers whether to allow married men to become priests in certain cases. The book “From the depths of our hearts” argues in favor of the centuries-old tradition of priestly celibacy in the Catholic Church. Benedict was initially listed as a co-author, but it was later clarified that he contributed only one part of the text.

A year later, Benedict came under fire for his time as archbishop of Munich and Freising between 1977 and 1982, following the publication of a church-commissioned report into abuses by Catholic clergy there.

In the 2006 letter, the former pope asked “sincerely” for “forgiveness” for those he “felt in some way” in his letter.

In closing words, the former pontiff asked “humbly” that, despite all his “sins and shortcomings”, he would be welcomed by God into heaven.

In a separate letter released by the Vatican in February 2022, Benedict issued a general apology to abuse survivors, writing: “Once again, I can only express to all victims of sexual abuse my deep shame, my deep sorrow and my heartfelt plea for forgiveness’, but he admitted no personal or specific wrongdoing.

There is no suggestion that his plea for forgiveness in his latest letter is related to the Catholic Church’s handling of allegations of sexual abuse against priests.


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