There is a 14 March ZDF video interview in German with Archbp. Georg Gänswein, the Prefect of the Pontifical Household and, simultaneously, particular secretary of Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus.
The interview reinforces my view that Pope Francis wants Benedict XVI to be more public.
A short time ago, Francis spoke in an interview about his view of the former Pope’s role. HERE In that response, Francis clearly thought that Benedict should be off his self-imposed leash.
No one else but Francis could make this decision and no one else could make it happen.
Benedict appeared, at the invitation of Pope Francis, at the recently consistory. That was also a dress rehearsal for Benedict’s presence at the canonization of John Paul.
Now, Benedict’s book about John Paul is coming out, even though before we were told that the Holy Father’s new writings would be published after his death. (Aside: A good way to pay off the Vatican’s debts!)
Francis is, I think, actively trying to make Benedict more visible, to form or shape an “office” or at least role in the Church for a Pope Emeritus.
Is that because Pope Francis plans to be a Pope Emeritus one day? I think so, but let that pass.
Francis is not afraid of Benedict in any way. He is not concerned about Benedict being though of as “co-Pope”. The two men genuinely seem to get along well. Moreover, Francis certainly understands now that all the dreck he is dealing with in the Curia was not Benedict’s fault.
In the midst of all this is the person of Archbp. Gänswein is Prefect of Apostolic for one Pope, private secretary to another. He is carrying out his duties with grace and discretion. He has carried letters, ideas, clarifications between them. If there has been no friction between the great figures he serves, that is in large part due to Archbp. Georg Gänswein. They talk to each other.
Now I read at Katholisches Info that Francis gave to Benedict XVI the interview that was published in September in Civiltà Cattolica. He asked Benedict to do some analysis of the interview. Benedict dictated four pages of comments for Pope Francis. We don’t know what Benedict offered. Gänswein said it was “interesting”.
Was this was an indiscreetion on Archbp. Gänswein’s part? No. After all, nothing terribly monumental was revealed: Francis asked Benedict for his thoughts and Benedict gave them and they were interesting. That said, was this a sort of planned “leak” of information about how the two men relate to each other? Yes, I think so. You don’t talk to ZDF openly about that unless you have a good reason to do so, unless you know the parties involved are okay with it.
Georg Gänswein is not like some many highly-placed, media-addled prelates, who dash to the microphones and then absolutely go to the zoo when broadsided with questions they didn’t anticipate.
Finally, all in all, Francis looks pretty good in this.
We are still reading Francis through Benedict, and I am more sure now that Francis wants Benedict to be part of the lens with which we read him.