On December 8, 2022, with a gesture of confidence and goodwill, I informed my secretary that I had written several letters and my last encyclical Mary Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate. I said this, strongly encouraged by my predecessor, the great John Paul II, a faithful defender of Mary Co-redemptrix at the foot of the Cross.
I told my secretary where they were. His surprise was not long in coming. He told me: Letters?!, and at the same time he told me with an obligatory smile that he thanked me for the vote of confidence. I pointed out to him that these letters were confidential and addressed mainly to the central government, the Curia of the Vatican, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Liturgy, the College of Cardinals, Cardinals Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Raymond Leo Burke, Cardinal Zen, Cardinal Robert Sarah, the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, and St. Peter.
I wrote a letter to priests and seminarians urging them to always strive to be exemplary priests, animated by constant and intense prayer, cultivating chastity and intimacy with Christ, and I emphasized that the priest must be conformed to the heart of Christ and that only in this way can the priesthood be successful and bear apostolic fruit, and advised them never to be seduced by the logic of career and power—words I have often said to priests and seminarians. Finally, I urged them not to make the mistake of taking communion in hand and doing penance according to Our Lady’s request.
I also wrote letters to the Institutes of Consecrated Life, to journalists around the world, and to my good friend, the theologian Giulio Colombi. Finally, I addressed an open letter to the People of God. I urged Georg that these letters be published three days after my death, and he gave me his word.
In my task of imitating Christ, who had with him to the end the treacherous and perfidious Judas Iscariot, an image of the traitors who would be seen in my Church, I also had Georg, to whom I showed sincere affection, trust and patience until the last moment, desiring the well-being of his soul and his conversion, Even though I knew I would soon see him commit the worst betrayal and the greatest murder. Knowing that my secretary would betray me, I wisely decided to give a copy of these letters to my great friend Giulio Colombi on his last visit, which was granted to me by a miracle of God after much supplication by my secretary Gänswein. Discreetly and without arousing suspicion, I quickly explained to Giulio what was going on and asked him to publish these documents after my imminent death and give a copy to each member of the College of Cardinals, so that they in turn could make the right decisions and convene a lawful conclave after my death.
Motivated by this act of trust that I showed my secretary, he secretly and treacherously communicated everything to Francis, the letters and the encyclical, the encyclical Mary Co-redemptrix, which I had written and in which I dogmatically proclaimed the co-salvation of the Mother of God. Without him noticing, and thanks to the volume of his phone, I could hear Francis give the order to burn everything, and he added: We must not leave anything that could be compromising, to which he replied: I will, and he hung up. He didn’t know I had heard everything. [However, Giulio Colombí died on January 1, 2023, the day after Benedict’s death, ed.].
Knowing of the betrayal of my secretary Georg Gänswein and as a last chance for him to justify himself before God, I explicitly recommended to him the encyclical I wrote on March 25, 2022. March 2022, in which after three years, day and night, in deep prayer and asking God to enlighten his servant with his Holy Spirit, I solemnly and dogmatically declared the role, knowing the complete and accurate documentation that lies in the archives and accompanies this new Marian dogma, revealed to the Blessed Virgin Mary as the spiritual Mother of all peoples, among her three main aspects as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate, which enable her to fully exercise her spiritual motherhood, a gift given to her by her Son Jesus Christ on the cross for all mankind of all times.
The encyclical states: “The Blessed Virgin Mary is our Mother in the order of grace, Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate, whose motherhood is universal and has been addressed to all peoples and races since the creation of the world, beginning with the salvation accomplished by her Son Jesus Christ. In the face of the unprecedented crisis of faith, family, society and peace that characterizes the present state of humanity, the intercession of the Mother of God is needed today more urgently than ever. I am convinced that this papal definition of the spiritual motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary will be an extraordinary remedy for the current global crisis that threatens humanity,” and I signed it: Benedict PP. XVI, Shepherd of Shepherds.
When I finished writing this encyclical, I received a sign from Heaven. In my heart, I was sure my career was over. It was the last thing I would do as pope and from that moment on, the countdown had begun. I felt at that moment like the Omega who ended a cycle in the Church and began a new and strong faith persecution.
That last morning I couldn’t sleep, I was breathing heavily, my sleepless nights were getting longer and longer. But I was aware that the Lord was in control. My state of mind was not the best, I felt tired and very overwhelmed by everything I knew was going on, with Francis’ confession tormenting me day and night, and that I could not possibly speak given my situation, and especially the seal of confession, which is inviolable. It tormented me to cause an unprecedented scandal. My communication with the world was veiled, it was like a silent scream in my long and painful agony.
Then came the moment when my secretary Gänswein came in in the early morning hours. He thought I was asleep, because I had had several long nights. He was convinced that he had fooled me all those years we had been forced to live together. To his surprise, I was awake. I prayed the rosary to my good and dear Mother, my companion in this exile, Mary the Co-redemptrix. What better companion could there be than she who was always faithful to her Son Jesus Christ and who stood at the foot of the cross?
George came up to me and said, “Your Holiness, can’t you sleep? I have to give you this medicine.” I was done, and God let me know it was time to go. Then I stared into his eyes. He looked at me and immediately averted his eyes. His gaze was cold, like that of a corpse. I took heart and said to him, Georg, have you ever thought of my death? He replied, “No, Your Holiness.” I said: You should do that and examine your conscience often, it is very healthy for the soul, life is very short and one day you will have to answer to God for your life.
He said to me, Your Holiness, why these words? In a very low tone and with great difficulty breathing, I answered him: “Gänswein, you have been with me for a long time and you do not know me yet? What you have to do, do it now and without further ado, but remember that one day you have to answer to God, don’t forget that,” and we stared at each other in silence. Then my secretary was surprised and realized that I had exposed his deception and that it was he who had been deceived. Then he gave me the injection and told me in my ear: “it’s time to end the farce”.
I was ready and I prayed, and contrary to his wish, I had peace, that peace that only God can give the soul, and I whispered to him, “I forgive you everything from my heart,” and in my agony, my last words were, “Lord, I love You. You know me and you know I love you,” And I fell asleep like someone falling asleep in his mother’s arms.
Throughout my painful pontificate, that is, during the eight years of active office and the nearly ten years of contemplative office, I was subjected to harsh criticism and humiliation. All my life I was mercilessly subjected to public ridicule, but the most painful humiliation I experienced when I came to Berlin and the German bishops and cardinals refused to welcome me. The other and greatest humiliation I experienced was on the part of my executioners on the day of my funeral. When I accepted the Peter ministry on April 19, 2005, I had that firm certainty that has always accompanied me, the certainty of the Church’s life through the Word of God.
At that time, as on other occasions, I spoke out publicly. The words that resounded in my heart were these: “Lord, why do you want this from me and what do you want from me? It is a heavy burden that You have placed on my shoulders, but if You ask me with Your word, I will cast out my nets, trusting that You will guide me in spite of all my weaknesses.”
At the end of my life, I can say that the Lord really guided me, that he was close to me, that I could feel his presence every day, that I had moments of joy and light, but also moments that were not easy. I felt like Peter with the apostles in the boat on the Sea of Galilee. The Lord gave us many days with sun and a light breeze, days when there was plenty of fishing, but there were also times when the water was rough and the wind fickle, as in all the history of the Church, and the Lord seemed to be asleep.
But I have always known that the Lord was in that boat, and I have always known that the Church’s boat is not mine, not ours, but His, and the Lord does not sink him, it is He who guides him, certainly also by the people he has chosen because he has so willed it. That was and is a certainty that nothing or no one can cloud, and that is why my heart today is full of gratitude to God, because he has never left the whole Church or me without his comfort, his light and his love.
I have loved each of you, indiscriminately, with that pastoral love that is the heart of every shepherd, especially of the Bishop of Rome, the successor of the Apostle Peter, every day. I have carried each of you in prayer with the heart of a father. I want my greeting and thanksgiving to reach everyone. I want my heart to expand to the whole world. Now, at the end of my career, I can assure you that the Pope is never alone. The Lord has always been with me. He worked with me. He rested with me. He rejoiced with me at the abundant catch. And he wept with me. All this was experienced by my heart during my pontificate, until the last day of my death.
My yes was a total surrender to God and to his work of redemption. It was a yes forever in the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I never left the cross, as many have claimed, but remained at the side of the crucified Lord in a new way, firmly with Mary at the foot of my Lord’s cross. Now I want to ask you one last favor.
“I listen, Your Holiness,” Sister Benedicta replied.
I want you to publish this in the media without leaving out a detail, as I have written, because everything is of great importance to the Church. Do not be afraid, I understand that it is a delicate mission that I ask of you. Can I trust you?
And the sister answers him: Your Holiness, of course you can count on me, I will be your secretary, if you will allow me. And he says to her:
Do it and don’t be afraid of the possible retaliation this letter may cause. I want it to reach the Vatican Curia, every member of the College of Cardinals.
“Holy Father, may I ask you a question,” says the sister, and he replies:
“After your death, a spiritual will was published, presumably yours. Is it true that it is yours?” Pope Benedict replied:
As for my Spiritual Testament, I will tell you that it has been published in an incomplete form. Every pope is free to write a spiritual will. I wanted to write it in two parts. I decided to do this because I was in a predicament at the time and especially because there was a risk of schisms within the Church.
The situation was so complicated that I even risked being locked up in a real prison if I didn’t comply with their demands — the pressure was clearly coming from the United States and the Chinese government. This was the reason I couldn’t write a full will and was thinking about writing it in two parts. I called the part that was published Alpha, while I called the second part of the will Omega. This second part was burned along with the letters and the encyclical I had written. This second part is the part I just dictated to you. That is why this document is very important and it is important that you bring it to light. This task requires your courage.
“I understand, Your Holiness,” said the sister.
As for my secretary [Gänswein], I will tell you that he has again used me to his advantage. I also refer to the book he self-published. Many of his confessions have been conveniently adapted. He’s just trying to entertain without saying what he should say. But that’s irrelevant now. The real testimony, and more than a testimony, is this document that I have just dictated to you and that I leave in writing thanks to you who was the Lord’s secretary and is now mine.
Before I conclude, I want to send a message of faith to all religious communities through your community. On this day, I invite you, who participate in the life and mission of the Church in the world, above all to nurture a faith capable of illuminating your vocation, so that your life may be an evangelical sign of contradiction for a world that is increasingly moving away from God and his love. A world that wants to live without God is a world without hope. Dress, tender children, in Jesus Christ and carry the weapons of light, as the apostle Paul admonishes, and remain awake and watchful.
Always remember that the joy of consecrated life necessarily goes hand in hand with participation in the cross of Christ. The same was true of Mary the Co-redemptrix. On this Feast of Lightmas, I wish that the Good News in you will be lived, witnessed and proclaimed and that it will shine as the word of truth. You are the lightning rod of the Church and stand firmly at the foot of the cross with Mary, the Mother of God. Tell everyone I’m with God. I go, but I also abide and accompany the Church in her purification as far as Calvary, that she may be adorned with the same glory as the Bridegroom.
Dear friends, God leads His Church, He always supports it and especially in difficult times. Never lose that vision of faith that is the only true vision of the way of the Church and the world. May there always be in the heart of each of you the joyful knowledge that the Lord is with us. He will not disappoint us. He is close to us and fills us with his love. I invoke the eternal protection of Mary, the Co-redemptrix and the Apostles Peter and Paul for the whole Church, and lovingly grant to all the children of God the Apostolic blessing: Pater et Filius et Spiritus Sanctus. Amen.
Your Holiness, says Sister Benedikt, and now your signature. He said:
“Write: ‘Benedict PP. XVI’”