Archbishop Georg Gänswein and Pope Francis | Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Vatican City, Jan 9, 2023 / 09:24 am
Archbishop Georg Gänswein, the longtime personal secretary of the late Pope Benedict XVI, met with Pope Francis this morning, according to the Vatican’s daily press briefing.
The German prelate’s meeting with the Holy Father comes only four days after Benedict XVI was laid to rest in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica on Thursday, Jan. 5.
It also took place shortly before the public release of Gänswein’s forthcoming book detailing his nearly 20 years of service to Benedict XVI. According to a preview of the text published by Reuters, the book includes details about the German pope’s alleged disagreements with his Argentinian successor over matters such as Pope Francis’ restriction of the traditional Latin Mass and his statements regarding moral matters such as abortion and homosexuality.
Titled “Nothing But The Truth — My Life Beside Benedict XVI,” Gänswein’s 330-page book will be released in Italian on Jan. 12. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni has provided no comment on the book, which was written with Italian journalist Saverio Gaeta.
Another episode reportedly discussed in the book is Gänswein’s effective dismissal from the role of prefect of the Papal Household, which occurred in 2020. Originally appointed to the position by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, Gänswein continued to serve as prefect during Pope Francis’ pontificate, a role that includes organizing official audiences with the Holy Father.
However, Gänswein ceased performing the duties associated with the position following a controversy in January 2020 surrounding a book on priestly celibacy originally published as co-authored by Pope Benedict XVI and Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah. The book, “From the Depths of Our Heart,” was published amid the controversial pan-Amazonian synod and was seen by many as a critique from the former pontiff of Pope Francis’ allowance for questions of married clergy to be discussed during the proceedings.
Gänswein asked Sarah to remove Pope Benedict’s name as co-author of the text and said that a “misunderstanding” had led to the retired pope’s inclusion as an author.
Gänswein’s role did not change following the incident, but his cessation of papal household prefect duties was explained by the Holy See Office as a reflection of the “redistribution of the various commitments and duties” of papal household staff.
In his forthcoming book, Gänswein reportedly writes that, following the authorship incident, Pope Francis told him “not to come back to work tomorrow.” “Nothing But the Truth” reportedly claims that Pope Benedict wrote two letters to Pope Francis asking him to restore Gänswein to his duties because the German archbishop was “under attack from all sides,” but his reinstatement never took place.
With Pope Benedict no longer living, it is unclear what role Gänswein will have going forward in the Vatican, if any.
As is standard practice for private audiences, the details of the meeting were not shared by the Vatican press office. A request for comment from Gänswein was not immediately returned.
Jonathan Liedl is senior editor for the National Catholic Register. His background includes state Catholic conference work, three years of seminary formation, and tutoring at a university Christian study center. Liedl holds a B.A. in Political Science and Arabic Studies (Univ. of Notre Dame), an M.A. in Catholic Studies (Univ. of St. Thomas), and is currently completing an M.A. in Theology at the Saint Paul Seminary.