Archbishop Gänswein – change of duties downplayed at Vatican

The Vatican is saying little about a change in duties for Archbishop Gänswein.

The Holy See Press Office says the long-time secretary of emeritus Pope Benedict XVI has had his duties as prefect of the papal household “reallocated to others”.

It is downplaying 63-year-old Georg Gänswein’s absence from several papal audiences over the past few weeks.

It describes the change as “an ordinary redistribution of the various commitments and duties of the prefect of the papal household who, as you know, is also the personal secretary of the pope emeritus,”.

Gänswein, who is from Germany,  has been the emeritus pope’s personal secretary since before Benedict became pope.

Several rumours are circulating about the reasons for his apparent sidelining from his papal household duties.

Some say Francis has given him leave of absence to devote full-time attention to Benedict. Some favouring this view are also speculating that the former pope’s health is worsening.

Others are speculating that that Francis relieved Gänswein of his official Vatican duties because of his role in the publication of the recent book by Benedict XVI and Cardinal Robert Sarah, head of the Vatican’s liturgy office.

Benedict contributed to an essay insisting on the necessity of priestly celibacy, that was written primarily by Cardinal Sarah.

The book’s January 2020 release date coincided with considerations Pope Francis is weighing concerning whether to allow married priests in the Amazon.

Benedict’s involvement is being seen as an attempt to influence Francis on this issue.

Many observers say Benedict’s participation could not have happened without Gänswein’s involvement.

Following the controversy about his involvement with the book, Gänswein phoned several German news agencies JBenedict had requested that his name be removed as co-author of the book, its introduction and its conclusion.

Although the German newspaper Die Tagespost has reported that Pope Francis placed Gänswein on an “indefinite leave” following the scandal over the book, the Vatican is denying this.

“No leave, we have no information in that sense,” the Vatican press office says.

Gänswein hasn’t been seen at Francis’s general audiences since15 January, the day the Sarah-Benedict book was officially released.


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