ROME – In excerpts of a new letter released Monday, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI said he sees clear “interior unity” between his papacy and that of his successor, Pope Francis, and described impressions to the contrary as a “foolish prejudice.”
Brief sections of the letter were presented at a Vatican news conference on Monday to showcase “The Theology of Pope Francis,” a series of 11 books written by 11 different authors.
“I applaud this initiative,” wrote Pope Benedict.
“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 solely a theorist of theology with little understanding of the concrete lives of today’s Christian.”
Presentation of the new volumes coincide with the fifth anniversary tomorrow of Francis’s election to the papacy in March 2013.
Benedict XVI added that these short 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.”
The emeritus pope’s letter was addressed to Italian Monsignor Dario Edoardo Viganò, who heads the Vatican’s new Secretariat of Communications created under Francis.
Prior to taking the role, Viganò served in Vatican Television and was responsible for live images, widely considered breathtaking, of Benedict’s helicopter ride to Castel Gandolfo on Feb. 28, 2013, the day his resignation took effect, thereby clearing the way for the eventual election of Francis roughly two weeks later.
Also in the letter, Benedict expressed gratitude for having received the set of 11 books edited by Roberto Repole, President of the Italian Theological Association.
During the event, Franciscan Brother Giulio Cesareo, the recently-appointed head of the Vatican Publishing House, explained that contracts have already been signed for the English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Polish and Romanian translations of the volumes, and that further negotiations are in process with publishers throughout the world.