Vatican City ( AsiaNews) - Benedict XVI's decision to renounce the papacy was "a great act of government", "a decision that was taken freely and that was really incisive in the situation and History of the Church". Father Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office, comments on the 11 February 2013 decision by the Pope Emeritus. "An unusual and surprising gesture" for the vast majority of people, but "for those closest to Benedict XVI" it was a decision upon which he had "prayed, reflected evaluated" for a long time, it was a decision the result of "spiritual discernment".
In an interview with Vatican Radio, Father Lombardi recalled the "fear" aroused at the time by the idea of two contemporary popes. "To me - he says - it seemed quite clear that there was absolutely no need to fear. Why? Because the fact is that the papacy is a service and not a power. If power is what motivates, then it is clear that two people may find it difficult to coexist in the same role, because it could be difficult to renounce power and live with one's successor. But if service is what motivates, then a person who has done his duty before God and in full consciousness of this service passes on the testimony to another person with that attitude of service and full freedom of conscience carries out this task, then there is absolutely no problem! There is a deep spiritual solidarity among the Servants of God who seek the good of the people of God in the service of the Lord".
And now Benedict XVI "lives discreetly, without a public dimension, but this does not mean that he is isolated, closed as if in a strict cloister. His activities are normal for an older person - an elderly religious, a life of prayer, reflection, reading, writing in the sense that he responds to correspondence he receives; interviews, meetings with people who are close to him, whom he willingly meets, with whom he believes it is useful to have a dialogue, that ask for advice or spiritual closeness. Therefore: the life of a person who is spiritually rich, highly experienced, in a discreet relationship with others ... there is no longer that public dimension to which we were accustomed, as Pope, then he was always on television, in the global spotlight. This is no longer the case, but for the rest, it is a normal life of relationships. Among these relationships, there is the relationship with his successor, his relationship with Pope Francis, with whom, as we know, he also has moments of personal encounter, dialogue ... one goes to the home of the other and vice versa. And then there are other forms of contact which could be the phone or messages that are sent: a completely normal situation and relationship, and I would add, one of solidarity. I believe those rare images of the two popes together and praying together - the current Pope and the Pope emeritus - is a truly beautiful and encouraging sign, the continuity of the Petrine ministry in the service of the Church".