Settimo Cielodi Sandro Magister

The Double “Foolish Prejudice.” The Complete Text of the Letter by Benedict XVI




The press office of the Holy See has not released the complete text of the letter sent by Benedict XVI last February 7 to the prefect of the Secretariat for Communications, Monsignor Dario Edoardo Viganò.

Viganò has, however, given it a reading (see photo) on the occasion of the presentation to the press of the series “The theology of Pope Francis,” published by  Libreria Editrice Vaticana and made up of eleven booklets, by different authors, on various aspects of the written and oral magisterium of the current pontiff.

The letter bears the date of February 7 and is in response to a previous letter from Viganò of January 12. But given that it was made known on the evening of March 12, just before the fifth anniversary of the election as pope of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, it was received as if it were a sort of “vote,” more than just good, given by Benedict to his successor, at the end of his first five-year term.

This interpretation has also been fostered by the press release sent out for the occasion by Viganò himself, which cited only the second and third paragraphs of the letter.

In which, however, Benedict XVI rejects not one but a twofold “foolish prejudice”: both that according to which Francis would be “only a practical man devoid of particular theological or philosophical formation,” and the other according to which he himself, Joseph Ratzinger, would be “solely a theoretician of theology who could understand little of the concrete life of a Christian today.”

In Francis, Benedict recognizes that which is undeniable: his having had a profound “formation” in theology and philosophy. Just as he recognizes an “interior continuity” between the two pontificates, where the adjective “interior” applies at least as much as the substantive “continuity,” given “all the differences of style and temperament.”

And then there is that final paragraph, omitted in the press release, in which Ratzinger, with sincere candor, provides proof of his refined streak of irony. It’s all there for the reading. And he who wishes to understand, let him understand.

So here is the complete text of the letter, from the salutation to the final signature.


Benedictus XVI
Papa Emeritus Signore
Mons. Dario Edoardo Viganò
Prefetto della
Segreteria per la Comunicazione

Città del Vaticano
7 febbraio 2018

Reverendissimo Monsignore,

I thank you for your courteous letter of January 12 and for the attached gift of the eleven small volumes edited by Roberto Repole.

I applaud this initiative which is intended to oppose and react to the foolish prejudice according to which Pope Francis would be only a practical man devoid of particular theological or philosophical formation, while I would be solely a theoretician of theology who could understand little of the concrete life of a Christian today.

The little volumes demonstrate, rightly so, that Pope Francis is a man of profound philosophical and theological formation, and they therefore help in seeing the interior continuity between the two pontificates, albeit with all the differences of style and temperament.

Nonetheless, I do not feel that I can write a brief and dense theological page about them because for my whole life it has always been clear that I would write and express myself only on books that I had also truly read. Unfortunately, even if only for physical reasons, I am not able to read the eleven little volumes in the near future, all the more so in that I am under other obligations to which I have already agreed.  {WHAT DOES THAT MEAN???}

I am sure that you will understand, and I extend to you my cordial greeting.


Benedict XVI

(English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.)

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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  1. It is difficult to understand how Pope Benedict could affirm anything at all about the books since he has not read them.

  2. Sheepdog094 says:

    Team Francis needs this for damage control

  3. Gertrude says:

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    It is becoming increasingly obvious that Pope Francis’s spin doctors have rather spin this out of control, and instead of adding credence to AL it has highlighted the steps his friends will take to add legitimacy to what is, in parys, grossly heretical.

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