The former pope, who stood down in a controversial move in 2013, claimed that people who oppose homosexual unions in today’s world are “excommunicated from society”. He said that it was “the same thing with abortion and creating human life in the laboratory”, adding that it was natural for those who oppose it to be concerned about the “spiritual power of the Antichrist”. The comments were taken from an authorised biography of the ex-head of the Vatican, called ‘Benedict XVI – A Life’.
However, the remarks have sparked fury among Vatican observers, who say this is the latest in a long line of passages used as an attempt to curb Pope Francis’ liberal agenda.
Lynda Telford, author of ‘Women of the Vatican – Female Power in a Male World’, told Express.co.uk how she “pitied Francis deeply” after Benedict’s words came to light this week.
She said: “Benedict’s doing his absolute best to sabotage all the reforms that Francis is trying to bring in.
“Divorce reforms (so divorced people can take Sacrament), reaching out to LGBT people, contraception, the lot.”
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Ms Telford added: “Benedict has no right to interfere.
“Putting him under the same roof as Francis, so he’s never free of him, is appalling.”
The alleged dispute between Francis and Benedict emerged after the latter stood down as head of the Catholic church seven years ago.
It was the first time since the 1400s a living pope had stood down, but paved the way for Francis to take over.
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But as Francis embarked on a journey to revitalise the Vatican and draw new worshippers to the church, some experts have said that Benedict is still attempting to use his power to ensure his traditional principles remain.
In the newly published book, Benedict attempted to smooth these allegations by saying his friendship with Francis had “not only endured but grown”.
His comments on gay marriage and abortion, however, left many feeling like an attack on the liberalism Francis is trying to install.
Benedict wrote in the German book: “A century ago, anyone would have thought it absurd to talk about homosexual marriage.
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“Today those who oppose it are excommunicated from society.
“It’s the same thing with abortion and creating human life in the laboratory.
“The real threat to the church ..is in the global dictatorship of purportedly humanist ideologies.”
Previously, Pope Francis has spoken out in support of welcoming those in the LGBT community to the Catholic faith.
In the year he was chosen to replace Benedict, Francis said that the “key for the church is to welcome, not exclude”.
He added: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?
“The problem is not having this orientation. We must be brothers.”