Archbishop Gaenswein to Return to Germany without New Assignment.
Pope Francis has made a decision regarding Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, the former private secretary of the late Pope Benedict. According to a Vatican statement released on Thursday, Gaenswein has been instructed to return to his native Germany by the end of the month, without any new role assigned to him within the Church.
This announcement puts an end to speculations about Gaenswein’s future within the Vatican. Having been a prominent figure in the Vatican for over a decade, Gaenswein fell out of favor with Pope Francis after a personal disagreement, resulting in his sidelining.
Former Pope Benedict, who resigned in 2013, passed away on December 31, marking the end of an era. Gaenswein, who is 66 years old, finds himself in an unusual situation, as it is uncommon for someone of his relatively young age and rank to be without an assignment. This decision by Pope Francis has raised questions of banishment.
The Vatican statement, consisting of only two lines, revealed that Francis had instructed Gaenswein to return to his diocese of Freiburg “for the time being.” Typically, papal secretaries are given important assignments such as leading dioceses, becoming cardinals, or assuming high-profile roles. Gaenswein, being nine years away from the normal retirement age of 75 for bishops, has been left without a clear path ahead.
In recent months, Gaenswein had several meetings with Pope Francis to discuss his future. Speculation in Catholic media suggested that Gaenswein was hoping for a diplomatic assignment as an ambassador to a country, but no such opportunity has materialized thus far.
When contacted by Reuters for comment, Gaenswein declined to provide any statement.
Gaenswein served as Pope Benedict’s personal secretary since 2003 when Benedict was still known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. He remained by Benedict’s side for nearly 20 years, including almost a decade following Benedict’s resignation.
In a book titled “Nothing But The Truth – My Life Beside Benedict XVI,” which was released shortly after Benedict’s burial on January 5, Gaenswein stirred controversy within the Vatican. In the book, he described the tensions that arose while two men in white lived within its walls, alluding to the strained relationship between Benedict and Francis. The book was sent to reporters by the publisher only hours after Benedict’s burial, causing a stir among Vatican officials.