Stung by accusations of spreading "fake news," the Vatican on Saturday released the complete letter by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI about Pope Francis after coming under criticism for selectively citing it in a press release and digitally manipulating a photograph of it. The previously hidden part of the letter provides the full explanation why Benedict refused to write a commentary on a new Vatican-published compilation of books about Francis' theological and philosophical background that was released to mark his fifth anniversary as pope, per the AP. In addition to saying he didn't have time, Benedict noted that one of the authors had launched "virulent," ''anti-papist" attacks against his teaching and that of St. John Paul II. He said he was "surprised" the Vatican had chosen the theologian to be included in the 11-volume "The Theology of Pope Francis."
"I'm certain you can understand why I'm declining," Benedict wrote. The Vatican's Secretariat for Communications said it was releasing the full text of the letter due to the controversy over the "presumed manipulation" of information when the volume was launched Monday with great fanfare. It said its decision to withhold part of the letter at the time was based on its desire for reserve, "not because of any desire to censor." The so-called "Lettergate" scandal has fueled the growing chasm between supporters of Francis' pastoral-focused papacy and conservatives who long for the doctrine-minded tenure of Benedict. The Secretariat for Communication, in particular, was accused of spreading "fake news" for having omitted key parts of Benedict's letter and blurring a photograph of the document where Benedict started to explain why he wouldn't comment on the book.
(Read more Pope Benedict XVI