ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE - While aboard a return flight to Rome from Romania, Pope Francis said Pope emeritus Benedict XVI gives him strength and reinvigorates him with the roots of tradition, which are legacies he wishes a polarized Europe would keep in mind.
“Every time I go to [Benedict XVI] to visit him, I take his hand and I let him speak,” the pope told reporters aboard the papal plane June 2. “He doesn’t speak a lot, and he speaks slowly, but with the same depth as always, because Benedict’s problem is his knees, not his head.”
Pope Benedict makes me strong
The comments were made in response to a question by Vatican reporters asking whether he still viewed his predecessor as a “grandfather,” especially given the emphasis that Francis put on the family and intergenerational dialogue during his May 31 to June 2 visit to the Eastern European country of Romania.
The pope emeritus, Francis continued, “has a great lucidity. When I hear him, he makes me strong and I feel the sap of our roots come to me so I can go forward.”
The pope added that the tradition of the Catholic Church is not “a museum,” but a heritage that allows people to be mindful of where they come from as they go toward the future.
Ever since Benedict resigned, shocking the Church and the world, some observers have sought to read division between the two pontiffs living inside the Vatican walls.
“Tradition doesn’t carry ashes, or the nostalgia of the integralists,” Francis said, but “the roots that allow the tree to grow and bear fruit.”
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