Pope Benedict XVI will wield considerable influence inside the Vatican after stepping down, according to leading Swiss theologian Professor Hans Küng, who likened him to a ‘shadow pope’.
Professor Küng, an emeritus professor at the University of Tübingen in Germany and a renowned critic of the Catholic spoke to euronews’ Rudolf Herbert on the day of Benedict’s last public audience as pontiff.
He said that Benedict’s conservative-leaning legacy will live on, whoever is named as his successor.
“I’m afraid that Joseph Ratzinger will be a shadow pope. He will not live in a monastery but in a former convent, which has been transformed into a beautiful villa, even in the future he will be addressed as ‘Your Holiness’, said Küng, who has his authority to teach Catholic theology revoked by the Vatican in 1979.
“It’s all very dangerous and it will restrict the freedom of the next pope, because Ratzinger will live close to the Vatican, he will reside there and maintain his contacts,” he added.
The Vatican took action against Küng more than 30 years ago after he became the first Catholic priest to publicly question the doctrine of papal infallibility.
Pope Benedict XVI took over in 2005 and his papacy has been dogged by child abuse allegations, as well as the recent ‘VatiLeaks’ scandal.
Küng said there is these events have “put a huge strain on the pontificate of Benedict XVI”, describing his tenure as having led the Church into “a bottleneck.”
“We have an exodus from the Church of men and women. The younger generation is not going anymore… We have a lot of problems, especially because we are steering off course from the second Vatican Council, the path of modernisation set by Pope John XXIII. We wanted to go forward. We are suffering from this restoration process that started with the Polish pope (John Paul II) and this German pope,” he told euronews.