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Benedict's secretary recalls pontificate's last days

Archbishop Georg Gänswein gives wide ranging interview

<p>Picture: Wikimedia Commons</p>

Picture: Wikimedia Commons

  • Edward Pentin for National Catholic Register
  • Vatican City
  • October 24, 2013
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Archbishop Gänswein, 57, served as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s private secretary from 2003, a role he maintained until Benedict XVI promoted him to prefect of the Pontifical Household last year. He continues to assist the Pope Emeritus and lives with him in a converted monastery in the Vatican Gardens. As prefect, he takes care of the internal organization of Francis’ papal household and supervises the conduct and service of all who make up the papal chapel and family....

....Recalling the final days of Benedict XVI’s papacy, he said his resignation was “not entirely” a surprise. “I had known of his decision for some time, but I never spoke with anyone about it. The moment of the announcement, on Feb. 11, remains indelible.”

“Difficult days” followed Benedict’s departure on Feb. 28, he said. “I will never forget when I turned off the lights of the papal apartments with tears in my eyes,” he said. “Then the car ride to the heliport, the flight to Castel Gandolfo, the arrival, the final farewell of Pope Benedict XVI on the balcony. Finally the closing of the door of the palazzo.”

He said the whole of March was difficult due to the uncertainty of who would be elected. “Fortunately, with the new Pope, there was a relationship of affection and esteem, even if Benedict and Francis are people with different styles and personalities,” the archbishop said. “Some have wanted to interpret such differences as being opposite directions, but it is not so.”

Going back farther, Archbishop Gänswein also recalled the nadir of the “Vatileaks” affair when Benedict XVI’s former butler, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested for leaking documents from the papal apartments, and the then-president of the IOR (Vatican Bank) Ettore Gotti Tedeschi resigned.

“I remember that moment well,” he recalled, but added that “contrary to what many people think, there is no connection between the two events; it was rather just an unfortunate coincidence, even diabolical.”

Gotti Tedeschi was ousted by the board of the IOR on grounds of negligence. Some speculated he was involved in leaking papal documents to the press, but this has always been denied, a view backed up by Archbishop Gänswein.  

“Benedict XVI, who appointed Gotti as head of the IOR to continue the [Vatican’s] transparency policy, was surprised, very surprised at the no confidence vote against the professor,” he said. “The Pope held him in high esteem and was fond of him but he chose not to interfere at the time, out of respect for those who were responsible for dealing with such matters. After the no-confidence vote, even though he was not able to meet with Gotti, the Pope kept in touch with him in a discreet and appropriate way.”

Full Story: Secretary Recalls Final Months of Benedict XVI’s Pontificate 

Source: National Catholic Register

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