In a very strange turn of events, the former pope -- Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI -- has broken his public silence to defend against allegations that he covered up sex-abuse.
The comments - which a victims' group rejected - were made in an 11-page letter to Italian author and mathematician Piergiorgio Odifreddi, who had written a book about the problems facing the Roman Catholic Church before the pope resigned in February.
"As far as you mentioning the moral abuse of minors by priests, I can only, as you know, acknowledge it with profound consternation. But I never tried to cover up these things," said Benedict, who now has the title Emeritus Pope.
Excerpts of the letter were published in the Rome newspaper La Repubblica on Tuesday with the former pope's permission.
It was believed to be the first time Benedict has responded to the sexual abuse accusations in the first person, although the Vatican has always said he did much to put an end to sexual abuse of minors by priests and never tried to cover it up.
Even stranger than the public nature of retired pontiff's statement is the fact that it appears to echo a letter from Pope Francis to the publisher of La Repubblica -- or does Pope Francis's statement echo Pope Benedict's?