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Benedict XVI is dead. The Italian press about the late retired pope and his relationship with Francis

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Benedict XVI was “the last conservative” who revolutionized the Church, “an innovator pope”, “a professor who became pope”, but also an “almost tragic figure” – this is how Italian newspapers bid farewell to the retired pope who died on Saturday at the age of 95 years. The press draws attention to the unique relationship between him and Franciszek.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died on Saturday morning at the age of 95. On Monday morning, his body will be displayed in the Vatican Basilica in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome. The funeral mass will take place on Thursday. After that, Benedict XVI will be buried in the Vatican Grottoes.

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Benedict XVIPAP/Waldemar Deska

“Miracle in the name of unity”

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Corriere della Sera columnist Massimo Franco, writing about the presence of Francis and his predecessor, states that it was a kind of “anomaly that gave stability” for almost a decade.

According to the author, there was a “silent agreement” between them in the name of the unity of the Church, in order to avoid “dispersion” within it. At the same time, he points out that the death of Joseph Ratzinger causes “the Vatican balance to shake.”

As the Italian publicist states, referring to the resignation of the German pope, the “epochal cohabitation” of Francis and Benedict XVI was not a foregone conclusion. “Their ability to provide a sense of normalcy in a situation that traumatized the Catholic Church in February 2013 should be portrayed as a kind of miracle in the name of unity,” Franco said.

Postcard with the image of Francis and Benedict in Saint Peter’s Square in the VaticanPAP/EPA/ANGELO CARCONI

“The normality of one pope is back”

A columnist for “Corriere della Sera” recalled the opinion that since December 31, when Benedict XVI died, Francis has been more lonely. But the author also presents another observation: “the normality of one pope dressed in white is returning, without the shadows of parallel power that enemies can use against this legitimate one.”

The doyen of the Italian Vaticanists, Luigi Accattoli, also writes in Corriere della Sera about the relationship between the incumbent pope and his predecessor. He notes that groups of supporters of both have sought support to “attack each other” but, he says, have always been disappointed. According to Accattoli, Francis and Benedict “remained themselves by accepting and respecting each other without falling into short-sighted ideas of involving the other in seeking support for each other.” This, in turn, proves that the time is ripe for another pope to step down and another to come, without the “accounts” of their supporters.

Benedict XVI and Pope FrancisANSA/PAP/EPA

“The Last Conservative”

La Repubblica calls Benedict XVI “the last conservative”. The Roman newspaper also describes him as “an enigmatic pope” and “an almost tragic figure” because he carried within him “the tensions and contradictions of contemporary Catholicism.”

“The theologian-conservative paved the way for the choice of the reformer’s successor” – notes the daily. “He – the guardian of tradition, revolutionized the papacy forever” – he assessed.

Catholic columnist Lucetta Scaraffia writes in La Stampa that Benedict XVI was the pope who fought abuses in the Church with the greatest courage and loyalty. The same diary emphasizes that the fight against pedophilia in the Church in the spirit of zero tolerance has become the mission of his pontificate.


The right-wing Il Giornale ran a large headline: “He was our pope.” The newspaper portrayed him as a keeper of tradition and a conservative who “defended the West and its Christian roots threatened by Islamic extremism.” As she added, there was a “true European spirit” in it.

The Catholic politician Rocco Buttiglione notes in this diary that Joseph Ratzinger was a “giant” derided as a reactionary.

Main photo source: PAP/Waldemar Deska

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