Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, Benedict's personal secretary who now heads Francis' papal household, told a German paper that the new pope sought out his predecessor's advice on an extensive interview in which he criticized the church's obsession with "small-minded" rules on abortion, gay marriage and contraception.
Francis received a draft of the interview for vetting before it was published by La Civilta Cattolica. It's unclear if Benedict provided suggestions on the draft or the final published copy, however.
Gaenswein said he was given a "first copy of the interview" with instructions to deliver to Benedict.
"'Bring this to Pope Benedict; you will see that the first page after the contents is empty," he said, according to the Associated Press. "Pope Benedict should write there everything that he has in the way of critiques when he has read it and give it back to me.'"
"Three days later, he said to me, 'I have four pages here ... in a letter, and please give this letter to Pope Francis,'" Gaenswein recalled of Benedict. "He did his homework — he read it and, in accordance with his successor's request, he did indeed offer some thoughts and some remarks on certain comments or certain questions on which he thought something additional could perhaps be said in another place."
"Of course I won't say what, but that was interesting," he added.