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Pope Francis calls predecessor Benedict a key transitional figure

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Pope Francis has described his predecessor Benedict XVI as a transitional pope, saying he was the only possible candidate to follow the upheavals under former pope John Paul II.

Germany’s Joseph Ratzinger, who became pope Benedict, was the only candidate who could be pontiff at the time when a new pope was elected in 2005, said Francis, the current head of the Catholic Church in an extract from a book due to be published in Spanish on Wednesday.

“After the revolution of John Paul II, who was a dynamic, very active pontiff, who took the initiative, who travelled… We needed a pope who could maintain a healthy balance, a transitional pope,” said Francis, referring to the election of Ratzinger who became Benedict XVI.

In the papal election at that time, some cardinals sought to block Ratzinger’s election, Francis said in the book of by the Vatican correspondent of Spanish newspaper ABC.

At the time, the cardinals also brought his name into play but, “if they had chosen someone like me, someone who creates a lot of chaos, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve anything. At that time, it would have been impossible,” said Francis, in the book called “El Sucesor,” or The Successor.

Germany’s pope emeritus Benedict XVI, born as Joseph Ratzinger in Bavaria in 1927, was pope from 2005 until his unexpected resignation in 2013. He died in 2022.

He was succeeded by Francis, born Jorge Bergoglio, in 2013.

Pope Francis pictured during the Holy Mass on Easter Sunday at the St. Peter's Square. Domenico Cippitelli/LPS via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa

Pope Francis pictured during the Holy Mass on Easter Sunday at the St. Peter’s Square. Domenico Cippitelli/LPS via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa

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