Benedict Says He Prayed Not to Be Elected

Benedict Says He Prayed Not to Be Elected (AP)

Pope Benedict XVI said Monday he had viewed the idea of being elected pope as a “guillotine,” and he prayed to God during the recent conclave to be spared selection but “evidently this time He didn’t listen to me.” For the first time since his election, Benedict shed light on his feelings inside the conclave during an audience with fellow Germans. Speaking in his native tongue, Benedict told the audience that at one point during the conclave, when it became clear he was garnering many votes, a fellow cardinal slipped him a note reminding him what he had preached before the conclave about Christ calling Peter to follow him even where he did not want to go.

Benedict, 78, said he had hoped to spend his last years living quietly and peacefully. “As the trend in the ballots slowly made me realize that — in a manner of speaking the guillotine would fall on me — I started to feel quite dizzy,” a smiling Benedict said, clearly joking. “I thought that I had done my life’s work and could now hope to live out my days in peace. I told the Lord with deep conviction, ‘Don’t do this to me.'”

He recalled saying to God in his prayers: “You have younger, better, more enthusiastic and energetic candidates.” “Evidently, this time He didn’t listen to me,” Benedict said.

As far as signs and portents go, that can’t be a good one. Technically, I suppose, Ratzinger didn’t become the Vicar of Christ until the ballots were in.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DaveD says:

    Sometimes those that serve best are those who seek the honor the least. They don’t seek the position because they are humbled by its magnitude. Therefore, if they are called, they treat the position with awe and respect. However, I did use the word “sometimes”.

  2. Maggie says:

    Guess the Spirit just moved him!

  3. Maniakes says:

    “The major problem—one of the major problems, for there are several—one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.

    To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso fact, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.”

    — Douglas Adams

  4. Tig says:

    I was praying that he was elected Pope. I guess that goes to show which one of us has God’s ear, huh?