VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has confirmed that Pope Francis is the pope.
In an interview with Massimo Franco of Corriere della Sera, Benedict, 92, said, "The Pope is one; [he] is Francis."
Accompanied by his personal secretary, Msgr. Georg Gänswein, 62, the Pope Emeritus spoke in a quiet voice and with his cognitive faculties fully intact.
Benedict continued in the interview to speak about the unity of the Church.
"The unity of the Church has always been in danger, for centuries," he said. "It has been for all its history. Wars, internal conflicts, centrifugal forces, threats of schisms."
"In the end the awareness that the Church is and must remain united has always prevailed," he added. "Its unity has always been stronger than internal struggles and wars."
During the interview, Benedict clarified that he has always rejected efforts to treat him as an alternative to Francis. He reaffirmed that, though they have distinct personalities and different approaches to doctrine and liturgy, his relationship with Francis is a loyal and affectionate one.
Nevertheless, Franco suggested future authors will have to address the prelates who have sought the Pope Emeritus' counsel while Francis was pope.
"It will not be possible to disregard the highly reserved cardinals and bishops who have come to his door looking for reassurances and expressing their criticisms and their perplexity towards the current pontificate," wrote Franco.
Authors will also need to address those who believe Benedict was coerced into resigning and incorrect about not being the reigning pope, wrote Franco.
On Feb. 11, 2013, Benedict XVI announced he was resigning the papal office.
Saturday marked the 68th anniversary of Benedict's ordination to the priesthood and the feast of Saints Peter and Paul.