Benedict to tell all about troubled time at the Vatican

Pope Francis (right) greets his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI -- who in 2013 became the first pontiff to retire in seven centuries-- during a ceremont at the Vatican on June 28, 2016 (AFP Photo/) (Osservatore Romano/AFP)

Rome (AFP) - Retired pope Benedict XVI is to lift the lid in a new book on his troubled time at the head of the Catholic Church, publishers announced Friday.

Entitled "Final Conversations" in Italian, the book is to be released in several languages and will take the form of an extended interview with German journalist Peter Seewald, who has collaborated on previous publications with the first pope to retire in seven centuries.

Italian daily Corriere della Sera, which has acquired the newspaper rights to the book and will publish excerpts in September, reported that it would include confirmation that there was a so-called "gay lobby" among senior Vatican clerics.

As described by Benedict this was more accurately a clique of 4-5 men who had their sexuality in common but worked together for their own ends rather than pushing the cause of gay believers. Benedict explains that he managed to remove the group from power.

The book will also confirm many people's suspicions that the erstwile Joseph Ratzinger was neither temperamentally cut out to be the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, nor to head a Church rocked by scandals like clerical sex abuse and beset by intense in-fighting in its upper echelons.

It reveals how he felt "incredulous" after his election and that he was unable to sleep for days afterwards. He also admits that he lacked decisiveness at times, according to Corriere.

Benedict made a rare public appearance on Tuesday at a celebration hosted by Pope Francis to mark the 65th anniversary of his ordination.

The 89-year-old German confounded rumours that his health was failing by delivering a ten-minute speech in which he lavished praise on his successor.

Benedict has made only a handful of public appearances since he retired on February 28, 2013 saying he no longer had the strength of mind or body to carry on.

A few months later he took up residence in a former convent inside the Vatican, where he has since spent most of his time praying, reading or writing.