Emeritus Pope Benedict denies his resignation was a ‘carnival joke’

Pope Benedict XVI is now known as the Emeritus Pope (Ben Birchall/AP) Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

A German newspaper that quoted letters by Benedict XVI hitting back at criticism of his 2013 resignation says he was responding to a conservative German cardinal who took issue with his decision to take the title “emeritus pope”.

The Bild daily gave more details on Friday of November correspondence it obtained between the German-born Benedict and Cardinal Walter Brandmueller, a prominent critic of Benedict’s successor, Pope Francis.

The cardinal had previously said Benedict’s new title “does not exist in the entire history of the church” and he initially thought the resignation was a “carnival joke”.

Benedict said he had “tried to create a situation in which I am absolutely inaccessible for the media and in which it is completely clear that there is only one pope”.

The Vatican has declined to comment.