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Pope Benedict’s secretary reflects on awful 2020 with German magazine 

Archbishop Gänswein celebrated Christmas and New Year’s with Pope emeritus Benedict in the monastery building Mater Ecclesiae in the Vatican Gardens, where the men and four Italian nuns reside.

Archbishop Georg Gänswein, author of "Who Believes Is Not Alone: My Life Beside Benedict XVI," in an undated photo. (Photo: Daniel Ibañez - EWTN)

CNA Staff, Jan 1, 2021 / 01:29 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Georg Gänswein has spoken about life with Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and a personally challenging year. “I’m grateful to God that 2020 is finally over,” the 64-year-old told the German tabloid magazine “Bunte”, saying Rome had at times turned “eerily quiet” during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gänswein, who hails from the Black Forest region of Germany, is prefect of the Papal Household, but has been on leave from his duties as prefect since February in order to be able to dedicate his time exclusively to the former pope as Benedict XVI’s private secretary.

Since the election of Pope Francis in 2013, Gänswein had worked in both roles, commuting between two offices – until the stress took its toll. The archbishop suffered from acute hearing loss in 2017 and is now living with a severe case of tinnitus. In late January of last year, Pope Francis informed Gänswein he should devote his time and energy entirely to his role as secretary to Benedict. “For this purpose, he released me from my service in the prefecture. My duties there have been reassigned for an indefinite period”, Gänswein said.

Following a treatment for kidney problems in September, Gänswein said, he had a “clarifying, very fortifying and encouraging meeting with Pope Francis” about the decision to be removed from active duty as Prefect, which he stressed he knew was not any kind of “punishment” in the first instance.

Gänswein celebrated Christmas and New Year’s with Pope emeritus Benedict in the monastery building Mater Ecclesiae in the Vatican Gardens, where the men and four Italian nuns reside.

“I pray the Liturgy of the Hours daily with Pope emeritus Benedict and also the Rosary. A considerable amount of my time is reserved for prayer. Every priest, every bishop, even the Pope, prays not only for himself but for the people entrusted to them. Also and especially for those who do not want to or cannot pray”, Gänswein told the magazine.

He also said Benedict XVI remained very alert mentally. “Physically, however, he has become quite weak,” he said. “At 93, he is at a blessed age.”

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  1. Wishing Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and Archbishop Georg Gänswein Season’s Greetings, a happy and healthy 2021. God bless.

  2. Archbishop Georg Gänswein has received much flak as Benedict’s secretary, accused of holding back info, refusing to fully inform Benedict, even characterized as jailkeeper by many most, notably Archbishop Vigano. Some of us hoping against hope that the former pope would speak out and reaffirm the faith, under a cloud of the Dubia, Amoris Laetitia. As we review the past years in this New Year it does appear Gänswein handled matters exceptionally well. He refused Vigano a visit at the ‘monastery’ that very likely would have exacerbated break away segments in the Church, created greater confusion and likely conflict with the present pontiff. All contrary to the Church because Benedict’s words per se cannot conclusively confirm Apostolic Tradition since he is no longer pontiff. And Benedict did in fact release papers that ‘privately’ confirmed Apostolic tradition causing Francis’ devoted biographer to rent his garments in outrage at this ‘repudiation’ of Amoris Laetitia. Francis’ confidant and consigliere A Spadaro SJ was alleged by the press to be simmering. In hindsight as events unfolded the secretary did a marvelous job and deserves our esteem.

    • Fr. Peter Morello, PhD. This article is about Ganswein and Pope Benedict XVl. The Pope who never resigned the Munus, which is his Papacy. Why use this opportunity to attack the great Archbishop Vigano? The Archbishop has become the voice of the people of God. There’s no turning back. Vigano has started the new revolution in the Church, it is a revolution of a continuation of the “Reform of the reforms” as started by St. John Paul ll and Pope Benedict XVl. Under Francis the Reform of the reforms was shot dead. But Vigano has given it new life. Deo Gratias!

      Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to Ganswein and especially to our beloved Pope Benedict XVl.

      • The Archbishop has become the voice of the people of God. There’s no turning back. Vigano has started the new revolution in the Church, it is a revolution of a continuation of the “Reform of the reforms” as started by St. John Paul ll and Pope Benedict XVl.

        Not buying it. Does anyone really think that either those popes would endorse the increasingly strident and problematic comments of Abp. Viganó about Vatican II?

        • I think Archbishop Viganò is correct. Vatican ll nearly destroyed our church due to a certain faction twisting the objectives of Popes John XXIII and Paul VI. I questioned Vat II when I saw the results of it over the years, esp. in Catholic education.

        • Carl E Olson, If you ever read what St. John Paul ll and Pope Benedict XVl said on the matters concerning Vatican ll, then yes they would agree with Archbishop Vigano. These two Popes were saying the same thing but few were listening. Why do you think these Popes called for the “Reform of the Reforms”?! One Journalist who was interviewed on Vigano said, “What Archbishop Vigano is saying about Vatican ll has long been on the minds of Bishops, Priests and Laity, but they feared to say it, until now”. I don’t blame them for fearing, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre said less than Vigano and look where it landed him. I’m reading now that when the Council was happening and after, the laity were outraged and it all caused a mass exodus from the Church. A mass Exodus that included Priests, Nuns and laity. Explain that away to Archbishop Vigano. Don’t you think something went wrong?

      • I don’t think the good Father is attacking Vigano as he is pointing out it was not a good time to engage, as Fr Peter points out. Please don’t read into the words written. Vigano is one of the good bishops, rare as they are. I am sure Gaswein recognizes that. There are so few of them.

  3. Thanking God that 2020 is over is just stupid . It’s over because it’s run it’s course of 12 months. Anyway , if there is an omnipotent god then he is the reason 2020 was so awful.

    • So then why are you taking time out of your life to post a desparaging comment on a Catholic website about a God you don’t believe in?

    • Tom Walker, Why blame God? We done this to ourselves and God ain’t happy about it. He has warned that we better amend our lives or he will do to us like in the Old Testament days. God will just rid himself of us. Instead of blaming God lets repent and beg for His Divine Mercy.

      • Beg all you want . It won’t make any difference just as it didn’t for the 50 % of Europeans and others who died horribly in the. Black Death , and all the other natural disasters throughout history.

        • Tom Walker, Hell is filled with those who regret not having begged God for Mercy. They will regret it for eternity. There is a saint who said, “You don’t believe that hell exists? You will when you get there”. I include you in my prayers, I hope you respond positively to the Graces God is granting you.

  4. The year 2020 was fine like any other year. But people can be evil and unlawful. Like China hiding the virus cause
    and spread upon the whole world. The American politics of the Democratic National Committee who have stolen the
    election with fraud and false erroneous ballets cast during the night while no inspectors were present.
    The world is violent. Not the ordinary day and weeks of the months.

  5. I too was struck by the Archbishop’s reported comment about being grateful that “2020 is over”. I thought it was a worldly, clicheist comment, to the point that I wondered if he had been quoted correctly. To our Lord, life is a continuum, something I am sure the Archbishop realizes and should emphasize.

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