Benedict XVI & Francis 2014 Gregorioa Borgia AP

Politics isn’t the only area where conspiracy theories run riot; churches deal with them too, including the claim that Pope Benedict XVI didn’t “really resign” eight years ago today and therefore Pope Francis’ election was illegitimate. The conspiracy theory tries to mask its origins: among right-wing prelates and theologians who oppose Francis’ liberalizing tendencies, especially among the marginalized and poor. Pope Benedict, in an interview published Sunday, said, “Some of my more ‘fanatical’ friends” refuse to accept his resignation in 2013. “It was a difficult decision. But I did it fully conscious and I think I did the right thing,” Benedict said. (Gregorio Borgia/AP, 2014)

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