VATICAN CITY, July 1 (Reuters) - Former Pope Benedict says in his memoirs that no-one pressured him to resign but alleges that a "gay lobby" in the Vatican had tried to influence decisions, a leading Italian newspaper reported on Friday.
The book, called "The Last Conversations," is the first time in history that a former pope judges his own pontificate after it is over. It is due to be published on Sept. 9.
Citing health reasons, Benedict in 2103 became the first pope in six centuries to resign. He promised to remain "hidden to the world" and has been living in a former convent in the Vatican gardens.
Italy's Corriere della Sera daily, which has acquired the Italian newspaper rights for excerpts and has access to the book, ran a long article on Friday summarizing its key points.
In the book, Benedict says that he came to know of the presence of a "gay lobby" made up of four or five people who were seeking to influence Vatican decisions. The article says Benedict says he managed to "break up this power group."
Benedict resigned following a turbulent papacy that included the so-call "Vatileaks" case, in which his butler leaked some of his personal letters and other documents that alleged corruption and a power struggle in the Vatican.
Italian media at the time reported that a faction of prelates who wanted to discredit Benedict and pressure him to resign was behind the leaks.
Photos of Pope Benedict before he stepped down:
ROME, ITALY - MARCH 11: People walk past a poster of Pope Benedict XVI hanging on a wall near Vatican City on March 11, 2013 in Rome, Italy. Cardinals are set to enter the conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI after he became the first pope in 600 years to resign from the role. The conclave is scheduled to start on March 12 inside the Sistine Chapel and will be attended by 115 cardinals as they vote to select the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
ROME, ITALY - FEBRUARY 28: Pope Benedict XVI waves to pilgrims, for the last time as head of the Catholic Church, from the window of Castel Gandolfo where he will start his retirement today on February 28, 2013 in Rome, Italy. Pope Benedict XVI has been the leader of the Catholic Church for eight years and is the first Pope to retire since 1415. He will stay at the Papal Summer residence of Castel Gandolfo until renovations are complete at a monastery in the grounds of the Vatican and will be known as Roman Pope Emeritus. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Benedict XVI blesses faifthful for the last time upon arrival in Castel Gandolfo on February 28, 2013. Once he steps down later in the day, Pope Benedict XVI will begin his retirement in the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, a sumptuous villa outside Rome with ornamental gardens, breathtaking views and its own farm. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE,FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
ROME, ITALY - FEBRUARY 28: A nun looks through a window as she waits for Pope Benedict XVI to address pilgrims, for the last time as head of the Catholic Church, from the window of Castel Gandolfo where he will start his retirement today on February 28, 2013 in Rome, Italy. Pope Benedict XVI has been the leader of the Catholic Church for eight years and is the first Pope to retire since 1415. He will stay at the Papal Summer residence of Castel Gandolfo until renovations are complete at a monastery in the grounds of the Vatican and will be known as Roman Pope Emeritus. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (L) embraces Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as he arrives at the Castel Gandolfo summer residence March 23, 2013. Pope Francis travelled by helicopter from the Vatican to Castel Gandolfo for a private meeting with the former Pope Benedict XVI. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano (ITALY - Tags: RELIGION TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
A bishop adjusts Pope Benedict XVI's mantle during the weekly Wednesday general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican June 2, 2010. REUTERS/Tony Gentile (VATICAN - Tags: RELIGION IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Pope Benedict XVI wears a red hat as he arrives to lead his weekly general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican September 6, 2006. REUTERS/Max Rossi (VATICAN)
Pope Benedict XVI holds a monstrance during a ceremony following an Eucharistic procession at La Prairie in Lourdes on September 14, 2008. The pontiff is on a pilgrimage to the shrine where the faithful believe the Virgin Mary appeared to a peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous, 150 years ago. REUTERS/Alberto Pizzoli/Pool (FRANCE)
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI gestures at the Munich Airport before his departure to Rome, June 22, 2020. Former Pope Benedict traveled to his native Germany last week to visit his ailing older brother. Sven Hoppe/Pool via REUTERS
Pope Benedict XVI holds his last general audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican February 27, 2013. The weekly event which would normally be held in a vast auditorium in winter, but has been moved outdoors to St. Peter's Square so more people can attend. The pope has two days left before he takes the historic step of becoming the first pontiff in some six centuries to step down instead of ruling for life. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (VATICAN - Tags: RELIGION TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Discover More Like This
BACK TO SLIDE
The Church has maintained its centuries-long opposition to homosexual acts.
But rights campaigners have long said many gay people work for the Vatican and Church sources have said they suspect that some have banded together to support each other's careers and influence decisions in the bureaucracy.
Benedict, who now has the title "emeritus pope," has always maintained that he made his choice to leave freely and Corriere says that in the book Benedict "again denies blackmail or pressure."
He says he told only a few people close to him of his intention to resign, fearing it would be leaked before he made the surprise announcement on Feb. 11, 2013.
The former pope, in the book-long interview with German writer Peter Seewald, says he had to overcome his own doubts on the effect his choice could have on the future of the papacy.
He says that he was "incredulous" when cardinals meeting in a secret conclave chose him to succeed the late Pope John Paul II in 2005 and that he was "surprised" when the cardinals chose Francis as his successor in 2013.
Anger over the dysfunctional state of the Vatican bureaucracy in 2013 was one factor in the cardinal electors' decision to choose a non-European pope for the first time in nearly 1,300 years.
Benedict "admits his lack of resoluteness in governing," Corriere says.
In the book, whose lead publisher is Germany's Droemer Knaur, Benedict says he kept a diary throughout his papacy but will destroy it, even though he realizes that for historians it would be a "golden opportunity."