Pope Francis seeks Vatican freedom as Benedict urged to take ‘real retirement’

The alleged row between Francis and Benedict has continued to boil, ever since the current pope replaced his successor in a shock move seven years ago. It has threatened Francis’ mission to try and modernise the church, as his supposed attempts at relaxing some of the rules of Catholicism, such as the introduction of married male priests into the fold, have been scuppered. Now, author Lynda Telford – writer of ‘Women of the Vatican – Female Power in a Male World’ – has called for Benedict to move away from the upper echelons of the church and allow Francis to carry out his own mandate.

She described the move to allow Benedict to stay on despite his resignation as the head of the Vatican as “appalling”.

It comes amid claims the pair do not get on as Benedict’s more traditionalist agenda is often set against the more liberal values of Francis.

In recent days, Benedict has attempted to soften perceptions of a dispute as quotes emerged from the new authorised biography ‘Benedict XVI – A Life’.

In the snippets from the book, Benedict said his friendship with Francis had “not only endured but grown”.

But other comments that surfaced from the publication show Benedict comparing gay marriage to the Antichrist, leading some experts to suggest it could be a ploy to derail Francis’ own revitalisation plans for the church.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Ms Telford said: “Benedict has no right to interfere. 

“Putting him under the same roof as Francis, so he’s never free of him, is appalling. He should be in real retirement somewhere. 

“He speaks as he does because he knows he has support from other backward-lookers. 

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“I pity Pope Francis deeply. I believe he’s a force for good, badly needed, but he has an impossible job to do. 

“Cleaning out the Herculean Stables of the Vatican will take more than one good man.”

Benedict stood down as pope in 2013, in a move that shocked the Catholic world.

It was the first time since the 1400s a living pope had stood down, but paved the way for Francis to take over.

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Yet, Benedict was allowed to stay on and some say he continues to exert his traditionalist influence over the Vatican.

And his comments from the recently published book appear to back this up.

Benedict wrote in the German book: “A century ago, anyone would have thought it absurd to talk about homosexual marriage. 

“Today those who oppose it are excommunicated from society.

“It’s the same thing with abortion and creating human life in the laboratory.

“The real threat to the church is in the global dictatorship of purportedly humanist ideologies.”

Previously, Pope Francis has spoken out in support of welcoming those in the LGBT community to the Catholic faith.

In the year he was chosen to replace Benedict, Francis said that the “key for the church is to welcome, not exclude”.

He added: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?

“The problem is not having this orientation. We must be brothers.”

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