VATICAN CITY — Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI broke his self-imposed silence to issue a damning letter accusing current Pope Francis of being a “homosexual sinner who threatens to destroy the church from the inside out.”
The unprecedented remarks were published in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica Tuesday. In the first direct public statement since his February retirement, Benedict warned that he would be compelled to forcibly reclaim the papacy should Francis continue to advocate for a more inclusive church serving as a “home for all,” homosexuals included.
“That the power of evil penetrated so far into the interior world of the faith is a suffering that we must bear, but at the same time we must do everything to prevent it from repeating,” wrote Benedict.
Once known as “God’s Rottweiler,” Benedict advocated for strict doctrinal compliance as pope, even at the risk of reducing the ranks of the church’s roughly 1.3 billion members.
In contrast to Benedict, who enthusiastically initiated a reprimand of American nuns for spending too much time caring for the poor at the expense of fighting abortion and gay marriage, Francis recently expressed a desire to flip the church’s priorities.
“We have to find a new balance,” said Francis, “otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the gospel.”
“Fragrance of the gospel? That has a definite whiff of homosexuality, if you ask me” wrote Benedict in response to the new pope’s widely reported comments.
“Policies which undermine the family,” including gay marriage, “threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself,” Benedict proclaimed. “I simply can no longer endure living with another man in the Vatican if he has homophilic tendencies. Not even if he is the successor of the Apostle Peter.”
Francis assured members of the Vatican press corps that he is committed to changing the church’s tone and has “still not seen anyone in the Vatican with an identity card saying they are gay.”
“But,” he noted, “Pope Benedict was known for wearing red slippers in and out of the Vatican—not that there’s anything wrong with that.”