09 February 2018
Benedict XVI pledged 'total obedience' to his successor on Francis' election
'I heard him say: ‘Your Holiness, from now on I promise my total obedience and my prayer’'
Benedict XVI pledged his “total obedience” to his successor during a telephone call on the evening that Pope Francis was elected.
Mgr Alfred Xureb, Benedict’s former secretary, witnessed a phone conversation between the retired Pope and Francis, just hours after the first Latin American Pontiff stepped out to greet the world.
“I heard him say: ‘Your Holiness, from now on I promise my total obedience and my prayer’,” he told Vatican News in an interview to mark five years since his Benedict’s shock resignation of the papacy.
Mgr Xureb explained there had been a delay in the new Pope appearing on the balcony overlooking St Peter’s Square because he had been trying to speak to his predecessor. But Benedict XVI and his aides had not heard the telephone ring because they were sitting in front of the television waiting to see who the new Pope was.
“We were in the television room, where the phone is always muted so we did not hear it,” the Maltese Vatican official explained. “This explains why Pope Francis’ was delayed in going onto the loggia.”
Mgr Xureb recalled how Benedict XVI informed him of his plan to resign six days before making it official.
“On February 5, 2013 Pope Benedict invited me to sit down in his study and announced his decision to resign. I then spontaneously felt to ask him: "But why do not you think about it a little?” he explained.
“But then I held back because I was convinced that he had prayed [about it] for a long time. In fact, just at that moment a detail came to my mind. There was a long enough period, when he, in the sacristy, before starting to celebrate Mass in the private chapel, remained for a long time in prayer; and despite the clock tolling to mark the beginning of the Mass, he ignored this and remained gathered before the Crucifix in the sacristy.”
Mgr Xureb explained that the retired Pope encouraged him to go and work as Francis’ personal secretary, and today the priest holds a senior position at the Holy See’s Secretariat for the Economy.
PICTURE: Pope Benedict XVI waves as he leaves his final general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican in this Feb. 27, 2013, file photo ©CNS
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