“Anonimi Della Croce”: The Letter Is Published
I visited the “Anonimi della Croce” site in order to see whether the famous letter showing that Benedict resigned because of external pressures was published.
Actually, it was, and on Good Friday already. The post is here. I will translate the important part below.
However, be informed from the start that there are a couple of big caveats:
- The letter is also anonymous. This means that the one who wrote the letter is not known. The letter could be, simply put, a fake.
- Benedict is the recipient, not the author, of the letter. Not to put too fine a point on it, I could write to any of my readers a letter stating “I know how hard it is to live with the terrible burden of having committed adultery”. This would not prove that you have committed adultery. I could then extract this letter from my sleeve at any time. Again, it would prove nothing.
The important part of the letter is this:
Il Suo pensiero di dimissione dal Suo stato deriva sicuramente da un grave conflitto interiore, dovuto ai motivi e alle pressioni che mi ha elencato. So per certo che in altre condizioni, Sua Santità non avrebbe mai pensato minimamente ad avanzare un gesto simile. Ma di certo, questo momento per la Chiesa di Cristo è da considerarsi terribile. E Lei Santità ne è il Capo. E solo Lei sa di cosa oggi la Chiesa ha bisogno.
Your thoughts about abandoning your state certainly derives from a grave interior conflict, due to the motives and the pressures you have listed. I know for certain that in a different situation, Your Holiness would never have thought of making such a gesture. However, it is certain that the actual situation of Christ’s Church must be considered terrible. And you, Holiness, are Her head. And only you know what the Church needs today.
There is a (paper) bomb hidden in these words: “the pressures you have listed”. The Italian “pressioni” leaves little doubt that this is not a generic indication of “pressing needs”, but rather directly refers to the pressure exerted on someone to move him to do something. There might also be several of those, and there are certainly a minimum of two, as allegedly Benedict “lists” a series of “motives and pressures”.
So, the famous letter was published.
However, in my opinion the letter does not prove much.
Firstly, the writer might have misunderstood Benedict.
Secondly, any priest worth his salt would never say to a Pope revealing to him that he is being blackmailed into resigning “only you know what the Church needs today”. He would actually say, no matter what the extent of the pressure is: “it would be gravely sinful, irrespective of the state of the Church, to yield to blackmail”.
Thirdly, Benedict has very officially stated that he has resigned out of his own free will and without external pressure, and I still trust the old man more than an anonymous letter.
Fourthly, if Benedict had mentioned “pressures” in the sense of “blackmail” it is likely that his “pen friend” would have used the word “ricatti”. You exert pressure on someone to make him do something, but this is clearly short of blackmailing. The teacher exerts pressure on his student, making clear to him that he either applies himself more or will sit the year. Ivanka Trump exerts pressure on her father to make him bomb a Syrian airport. The act of exerting pressure is strong, but not necessarily immoral and generally not criminal. The act of blackmail is fundamentally different, and is described with a different word. This letter is also confidential. Therefore, the writer would not hesitate to write “ricatti” (the plural of “blackmail”) if he thought this is what is in play.
What this most probably looks like is that several people were telling Benedict that the Church needs a strong man, and he – as he himself stated publicly – does not want to end up like JP II. And the man, weak and meek (in the bad sense) as he has been his entire life, has felt the burden of being put “under pressure” to resign. Which makes his decision, in this hypothesis, entirely his anyway; because he was the Pope, not a child of three.
If we were to know the author and circumstances of the letter, and the author ‘s relationship with Benedict, we could make a better assessment. But as it is, this seems hardly a smoking gun.
More a chocolate one.