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Archbishop Gänswein says loyalty to Pope Benedict makes him unwelcome in Germany

July 19, 2016

In an interview with Schwäbischen Zeitung, Archbishop Georg Gänswein said that his work as the personal secretary of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and his previous work for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are a “mark of Cain” in the eyes of much of the Church in Germany—a mark that makes it unlikely he would return to his native land as a diocesan bishop.

In response to a question about whether he might one day lead a German diocese, the prelate, who also serves as Prefect of the Papal Household, said that the cathedral chapter plays a role in the selection of bishops, and German cathedral chapters are not known as having the “highest loyalty toward Rome.” In any case, he does not have “any ambition” to become a German diocesan bishop.

During the interview, Archbishop Gänswein described Pope Francis as a “classic Jesuit of the old Ignatian school” and said that “there is definitely a continuity” between Pope Benedict and Pope Francis.

“Obviously I am also aware that occasionally doubt might be cast on this, given the differences in representation and expression,” he continued. “But when a Pope wants to change an aspect of the doctrine, then he has to do so clearly, so as to make it binding. Important magisterial tenets cannot be changed by half sentences or somewhat ambiguous footnotes.”

“Statements that can be interpreted in different ways are a risky thing,” he added. “One has to simply accept the fact that his [Pope Francis’s] way of speaking can at times be somewhat imprecise, indeed nonchalant. Every Pope has his own personal style.”

Statistics show that German bishops’ early predictions of a “Francis effect” of increased Mass attendance and vocations has not transpired, Archbishop Gänswein observed.

During the interview, the prelate also strongly criticized the German church-tax system:

How does the Catholic Church in Germany react to someone leaving? By automatic expulsion from the community, in other words, excommunication! That is excessive, quite incomprehensible. You can question dogma, no one is concerned about that, no one gets kicked out. Is the non-payment of the Church tax a bigger offense against the faith than violations of the tenets of faith?

 
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