Book reveals mistrust and friction between Popes Benedict XVI and Francis

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The German Georg Gänswein, former secretary of pope emeritus Benedict XVI, who died on December 31, 2022, launched this Thursday (13) a book in which he exposes the backstage of the Vatican – especially of the last decade.

Called “Nothing But the Truth. My life with Benedict XVI” (in free translation), the book brings revelations about the relationship between Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, whom the author criticizes.

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According to Gänswein, Francis, considered progressive by the Catholic Church, did not like the interventions of Benedict XVI, who was conservative, and acted in a way to isolate the pope emeritus.

After his resignation in 2013, the first by a pontiff since the Middle Ages, Benedict XVI promised to live “secluded from the world”, but he intervened a few times in controversial issues, such as when he spoke in favor of maintaining the celibacy of priests, in 2020, going against Francis.

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Gänswein, Benedict XVI’s private secretary since 2003, even before his election as pope, was prefect of the Pontifical Household of the Holy See at the time of the controversy.

He claims that, after that episode, Francisco deprived him of the executive functions of his position, although he kept the title, and made him a request: “From today, stay at home. Accompany Bento, who needs you, and act as a shield”.

When Gänswein told Benedict XVI what had happened, he replied: “Apparently Pope Francis no longer trusts me and has made you my watchman.”

Because they had a close and trusting relationship, the pope emeritus made confessions to the then secretary, according to him.

The Vatican has not officially reacted to the criticism of the Argentine pope – widely reported in the international press -, but last Monday (9) the former secretary was summoned to a closed-door audience with Francis.

The content of the conversation was not disclosed, but, according to sources, the pontiff was disappointed and asked Gänswein for discretion.

On the eve of the book’s launch, Francis warned at the Angelus (a prayer recited by the pontiff in remembrance of the perennial Mystery of the Incarnation three times a day from the window of the Apostolic Palace), that “gossip is a lethal weapon that kills. It kills love, society and fraternity”, a message interpreted as an alleged reaction to Gänswein’s publication.

Differences and friction

Gänswein says that, on several occasions, Benedict XVI and Francis differed because of their ideological currents. He uses the Italian term “tifoserie”, like football fans, to refer to conservatives and progressives.

According to the former secretary, the Argentine pope “broke the heart” of his predecessor by reversing his decision on the use of Latin in masses, for example.

It is clear in the book, too, that the author has personal issues with the current pope. He says he has always had a “cold” relationship with Francis, who “would be jealous” of his confidential relationship with Benedict XVI.

Among many other things, Gänswein reproaches Francis for having caused him to lose his prestige as Prefect of the Pontifical Household, one of the most important positions in the Curia, since he entrusted him with caring for Benedict XVI in his retreat in the Vatican monastery of Mater Ecclesiae .

Currently, he still holds the position, but remains away from his duties.

After the death of Benedict XVI, on the last day of 2022, aged 95, there are doubts about the future of the former secretary. Particularly after publication, it is very unlikely that he will return to full exercise as Prefect of the Pontifical Household, say Vatican sources.

Some people say that the Argentine pontiff could appoint Gänswein as an ambassador, with the aim of removing him from the Holy See and its intrigues.

Other possible options are to leave the Vatican to teach at a Catholic university abroad or return to Germany. The former secretary has already left the monastery of Mater Ecclesiae this Thursday (12).

According to German Catholic media, on the day of Benedict XVI’s burial, Gänswein received a letter signed by Pope Francis himself informing him that he had to leave the monastery by February 1st.

*with information from international agencies

Source: CNN Brasil

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