VATICAN CITY — Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI is offering a first-ever papal assessment of his own pontificate in a book that recounts his decision to resign, his surprise at his successor and his attempts to dismantle what he calls the Vatican's "gay lobby."
"Benedict XVI: The Final Conversations," is due out in September, the latest book-length interview that Benedict has conducted with German journalist Peter Seewald.
Italian daily Corriere della Sera, which has the book's newspaper rights, provided a brief overview Friday.
Corriere said Benedict recounts in the book that he decided to announce his resignation in Latin because he feared making a mistake in Italian. He recalls his "surprise" that Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope and his "joy" at seeing Pope Francis mingle with crowds.
Benedict also claims to have dismantled a group of four or five gay prelates, dubbed the "gay lobby" by the Italian media, who exercised power and influence in the Vatican.
The existence of this group of gay prelates — who purportedly used blackmail to promote and preserve their interests — has been mythologized in Italian media. Soon after he was elected pope and was asked about the so-called "gay lobby," Francis quipped that he had yet to encounter any priest who had "gay" written on his business card.
That said, just this week a gay monsignor who was fired from the Vatican and suspended as a priest after he came out, boyfriend by his side, published a book about his experiences as a gay official in the Vatican's doctrine office.
In "The First Stone," Polish-born Krzysztof Charamsa recounts the absolute "obsession" with homosexuality in the halls of the Holy See. He details the "hypocrisy" of its functionaries who profess a celibate life but live quite another, and writes that it was enough to destroy someone's Vatican career by simply spreading gossip that he was gay.
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