A year after he abdicated his post as supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic church, Benedict XVI still has yet to fully enjoy a controversy-free life. On Wednesday, he again defended his resignation a year ago was a willing act on his part and that nobody forced him to step down.
Recent speculations about his resignation on Feb 28, 2013 were merely "absurd," Benedict, who was conferred the title "Pope Emeritus," said in a letter to the Italian Web site Vatican Insider published on Wednesday.
The Italian newspaper Libero, on the anniversary of the announcement of Benedict's resignation, ran a story that resuscitated rumors the 87 year old former Pope was forced to step down because of scandals in the Vatican.
"There is absolutely no doubt regarding the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry," he said.
"The only condition for the validity of my resignation is the complete freedom of my decision. Speculation regarding its validity is simple absurd."
He likewise defended that maintaining the name Benedict as well as preferring to wear white, the traditional color of papal clothes, had anything to do with the sentiment of still feeling a pope.
"I continue to wear a white cassock and kept the name Benedict for purely practical reasons. At the moment of my resignation there were no other cloths available. In any case, I wear the white cassock in a visibly different way to how the Pope (Francis) wears it. This is another case of completely unfounded speculation."
The scandals that plagued the Vatican during Benedict's time reached its zenith when his butler stole confidential Vatican documents. Purposely leaked to the press, it depicted that even the Holy See had its bouts of corruption, nepotism and mud-slinging.
But Benedict, in the 2010 book 'Light of the World,' had somehow made feelers that his papacy will end in a resignation and not by virtue of his death. "If a pope clearly realizes that he is no longer physically, psychologically and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office, then he has a right, and under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign," he wrote.
However, allusions to his supposed deteriorating physical state are now being questioned.
His own friends attest his overall health had been pretty good since that historic Feb 2013 abdication.
"His memory is fresh and his eyes are very bright and joyous," Reuters quoted Rev Stephan Otto Horn, head of a close-knit circle of Benedict's former theology students.
Whereas he promised to live a life "hidden from the world," he made a surprise appearance at St Peter's Basilica on Saturday during the installation of the first batch of new cardinals under Pope Francis' tutelage. "When I saw him, I was startled," new Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes Solorzano of Nicaragua said.
Benedict was the first pope to retire in 600 years. His successor, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, elected by the College of Cardinals on March 13, took the name Francis.
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