The health of Benedict XVI, sidelined from the Roman Curia: the private secretary of former Pope Benedict XVI reviewed the main events that may have affected him during the year 2020.
“I am thankful to God that 2020 is finally over.” Archbishop Georg Gänswein has a heavy heart. Surprisingly, it was to the German tabloid Bunte—a magazine known for having a field day with scandal—that the former pope’s private secretary decided to confide his state of mind, in a telephone interview published on December 29, 2020.
The sixty-four year old Bavarian Archbishop still held the office of Prefect of the Pontifical House a year ago: as such, he was responsible for organizing the antechamber service and preparing for solemn audiences that the Sovereign Pontiff grants to Heads of State, as well as to ambassadors who come to the Vatican, for the presentation of their credentials.
A dramatic turn of events happened on February 6, 2020: the Holy See announced a “redistribution of tasks and commitments,” including exclusion of the one who remains present, still to this day and on paper, in the organization chart of the Roman Curia.
A brutal decision intervened shortly after the publication of the book From the Depths of Our Hearts, written by Cardinal Robert Sarah, and in which Benedict XVI had participated in the greatest secrecy, without the Argentine pontiff having been warned in time.
The error was fatal, especially since the published work warned against a possible opening of the priesthood to married men: the press was then able to evoke a deep divergence of views between the former and the current successor of Pierre.
Archbishop Gänswein maintains that Pope Francis’ decision greatly surprised and “saddened” him. He explains that he accepted it “in obedience.”
After being treated for kidney problems last September, the senior Bavarian prelate reports that he had a “clarifying, very strengthening and encouraging meeting with Pope Francis” about the decision to be relieved of active service as the prefect.
Choosing his words, Archbishop Gänswein stressed that while this layoff felt like “punishment,” he now knows that that was not the case—the reader will understand.
As for the health of the Pope Emeritus, Archbishop Gänswein, who celebrated Christmas and New Years in his company, assures us that the former Pope “remains mentally alert, even though physically he has weakened. At ninety-three, he is at a blessed age,” he concludes.