Facing us, German Archbishop Georg Gänswein, 66, speaking recently with an Italian television journalist. Gänswein, the personal secretary of Pope Benedict XVI until Benedict’s death on December 31 at the age of 96, will meet with Pope Francis in the morning to receive news of what his new role in the Church will be… (link)

    Letter #67, 2023 Friday, March 3: Gänswein    

    A long-awaited meeting will take place in the morning.

    A meeting of transition, of change, certainly — and, perhaps, of… farewell…

    Tomorrow morning in Rome, on Saturday, March 4, Pope Francis, 86, will receive in audience German Archbishop Georg Gänswein, 66, for 20 years the personal secretary of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then Pope Benedict XVI, then Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.

    Reuters reported yesterday, March 2:

    “Pope Francis will decide on a new role for German Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, a critic of the pontiff who was the long-term senior aide to his predecessor Benedict, in the coming days, Gaenswein said. Gaenswein made the comment to Italian RAI public television in an extract from an interview to be broadcast on Thursday evening.”

    The Reuters article was headlined: “Late Pope Benedict’s top aide to be given a new job” (link, and full text below).

    Italian journalist Francesco Antonio Grana then reported for Il Fatto Quotidiano this morning that the meeting will take place at 9 a.m, Rome time tomorrow morning, Saturday, March 4, in the private library of the Popes in the Apostolic Palace on the right side of St. Peter’s Square as one looks from the piazza toward the facade of St. Peter’s (link, and full text below).

    So the multi-week transition period from the time at the end of last year when Pope Benedict was still alive, though frail at age 96 (he died on the last day of last year, on December 31, 2022) until tomorrow morning, when the future of his closest aide, Archbishop Gänswein, will be decided, is drawing to a close…


    One curious fact: when I was in the Old Santa Marta residence a few weeks ago, meeting with Cardinal Raffaele Farina, SDB (Salesians of Don Bosco), 89 (link) I passed by the mailboxes by the doorway, and saw… Archbishop Gänswein’s name on one of the mailboxes.

    “Archbishop Gänswein has his apartment here?” I asked the good cardinal.

    (Farina was for some years was the Prefect of the Vatican Library — a position Pope John Paul II asked Farina to take in the late 1990s, after Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger asked John Paul to allow him to step down as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and become… the Vatican librarian, and John Paul turned him down, wishing to keep Ratzinger as head of the CDF, and choosing Farina for the library instead).

    “Yes,” Cardinal Farina said. “It was the apartment of Archbishop Viganò when he was in Rome.” —RM    


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    P.P.S. Here is a link to our Special Edition on Mary. Many are saying is “the best issue of your magazine you ever made.” This beautiful issue on Mary is suitable for display on a coffee table, and may come to be regarded as a collector’s item (link).

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    Tomorrow is the meeting between Pope Francis and Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who harshly attacked Bergoglio in his latest book (link)

    Their last face-to-face took place on 9 January, a few days after Ratzinger’s death, but above all after the publication of Monsignor Gänswein’s memoir entitled Nothing But the Truth (Piemme), co-written with Vatican correspondent Saverio Gaeta

    By Francesco Antonio Grana

    MARCH 3, 2023

    The hour of truth for the former secretary of Benedict XVI has finally arrived.

    In fact, the audience between Pope Francis and Archbishop Georg Gänswein, formally still prefect of the Papal Household, but in fact relieved of this role, is scheduled for tomorrow morning, Saturday 4 March, at 9 am, in the private library of the Apostolic Palace. in early 2020.

    The last face-to-face had taken place on 9 January, a few days after Ratzinger’s death, but above all after the publication of Monsignor Gänswein’s memoir entitled Nient’altro che la Truth (Piemme, link), co-written with Vatican correspondent Saverio Gaeta.    

    In the book, Ratzinger’s secretary harshly attacks Bergoglio.

    In these two months since the death of the Pope emeritus, Gänswein has continued to live in the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, inside the Vatican Gardens, the residence chosen by Benedict XVI for the emeritus.

    The prelate is completing the move to his new apartment of about 300 square meters on the fourth floor of Santa Marta Vecchia, a building between the Paul VI hall and Casa Santa Marta, Francis’ residence.

    The Pope had already assigned this apartment to Benedict XVI’s secretary for some years, precisely in view of Ratzinger’s death and his subsequent move from the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery which will now probably remain empty.

    In fact, it is unthinkable, at least at the moment, to hypothesize that the nuns could return as they were until, in November 2012, when, in November 2012, the then substitute of the Secretariat of State, Monsignor Angelo Becciu, now a cardinal, gave the order to start the renovation works of the building to transform it into the residence of the Pope Emeritus.

    Order that Becciu gave on the recommendation of Benedict XVI, also carrying out an inspection “almost like conspirators” with Gänswein, without revealing that the illustrious tenant who allegedly lived there would have been Ratzinger himself after his resignation.

    During the restructuring period of the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, in fact, everyone in the Vatican thought that the Pope had finally decided to retire his Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, following the numerous complaints received from various cardinals very close to him . and that he had assigned to his closest collaborator the residence which until then had housed some cloistered nuns of various religious orders in turn.

    At the time, in fact, the Visitandine nuns had just left, as agreed three years earlier, while the new religious community that was supposed to replace them had not yet arrived.

    Gänswein, already for several months, has had his new apartment radically renovated and has already brought in appliances, furniture, books and paintings.

    For a few days, both on the intercom and on the doorbell of the house, the plates with his name have appeared.

    Two days before the new audience with Bergoglio, guest of Bruno Vespa in the evening Five Minutes broadcast on Raiuno, the prelate expressed the hope: “I hope that Pope Francis trusts me, I hope I have not given a reason not to trust.”

    As for his future, Monsignor Gaenswein explained: “The Holy Father will tell me this in a few days.”

    The reference is obviously to the hearing scheduled for March 4th.

    When asked if he is faithful to Francis, the prelate replied: “Faithful and loyal: he is the Pope of the Catholic Church and the successor of Peter, as I have been faithful to all his predecessors.”

    Ratzinger‘s former secretary he wanted to clarify that his memoir was not intended to create “wars” in the Church. 

    “My only goal,” – explained Gänswein – “was to clarify even points where there were many problems. Clarity is telling and giving the truth for all those who wanted to know it. No wars, no factions, I just wanted to give my testimony of the real things that happened.”

    As for the timing of the publication of the volume, announced just four hours after the death of Benedict XVI, the prelate commented: “Any moment of publication would have been criticized by someone.”


    Late Pope Benedict’s top aide to be given a new job (link)

    March 2, 2023

    ROME, March 2 (Reuters) – Pope Francis will decide on a new role for German Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, a critic of the pontiff who was the long-term senior aide to his predecessor Benedict, in the coming days, Gaenswein said.

    Gaenswein made the comment to Italian RAI public television in an extract from an interview to be broadcast on Thursday evening.

    The archbishop was Benedict’s personal secretary from 2003, when Benedict was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and remained in his employ for nearly 20 years until his death on Dec. 31.

    The archbishop also acted as Francis’ gatekeeper until Francis dismissed him in 2020, telling him to focus on looking after Benedict.

    Gaenswein, 66, did not say if he expected to stay at the Vatican or be sent somewhere else, perhaps his native Germany.

    Benedict stepped down in 2013, becoming the first pope in modern history to resign and live side-by-side with his successor.

    The cohabitation was awkward, as conservatives rattled by Francis’ relatively liberal approach looked up to Benedict as a sort of alternative leader.

    In a book published in January, Gaenswein alleged that Benedict quietly disagreed with Francis on a number of issues, including abortion, homosexuality and the use of the Latin Mass.

    In his interview with RAI, the archbishop said he remained “faithful and loyal” to Francis, but had published his book to “tell the truth for all those who wanted to know it”.

    Francis has not commented directly on Gaenswein’s memoir, but last month said some conservatives had exploited Benedict’s death to spread malicious gossip.

    The pope used the Spanish expression “Cuento Chino,” meaning tall tales, to describe allegations that Benedict was saddened by some of his decisions.

    Reporting by Alvise Armellini, editing by Andrew Heavens and John Stonestreet

    [End, March 2 Reuters story]

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