Pope Benedict pledged to remain "hidden to the world" when he became pope emeritus and turned things over to Pope Francis, but some newly surfaced letters are changing that. In them, Benedict sends a message to those who prefer his more conservative leadership over Francis' relatively liberal style that they're carrying things too far, reports the New York Times. A key passage, in a letter published in the German newspaper Bild from Benedict to Cardinal Walter Brandmuller of Germany: “I can well understand the deep-seated pain that the end of my pontificate caused you and many others," he writes. "But for some—and it seems to me for you as well—the pain has turned to anger, which no longer just affects the abdication but my person and the entirety of my pontificate."
Brandmuller was among the cardinals who signed a 2016 letter to Francis seen as a rebuke to him for his position on church doctrine. The Tablet assesses it like so: "The overriding concern from Benedict appears to be that his papacy is being devalued by those using it as a political weapon to undermine Francis." In fact, those who signed that letter are now embracing the extraordinary new call for Francis to resign over his handling of church's sex abuse scandal, notes the Times. In his letter to Brandmuller, the 91-year-old Benedict also referred to the "sadness about the situation of the church today," which the Tablet notes could be interpreted as him agreeing with Francis' critics on the direction of the church doctrine. But he defended his decision to step down. “If you know a better way [i.e. resignation] and therefore think that you can judge the one chosen by me, please tell me.” (Read more Pope Francis stories.)