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Archbishop Gänswein’s duties reduced after controversy over book

February 05, 2020

Archbishop Georg Gänswein has apparently been relieved of his duties as prefect of the pontifical household.

After the German newspaper Tagepost reported that Archbishop Gänswein was given a leave of absence, the Vatican confirmed that a “redistribution of the various commitments and duties” the archbishop had been performing.

In addition to his work as prefect of the pontifical household, Archbishop Gänswein has continued to serve as private secretary to Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI. The reduction in his role comes shortly after he was caught in the middle of a controversy over the publication of a book defending the tradition of priestly celibacy, to which the retired Pontiff had contributed.

Since that incident, Archbishop Gänswein has been conspicuously absent from his usual functions at the apostolic palace.

The book controversy erupted when, in early releases of the volume, Pope-emeritus Benedict was listed as a co-author, along with Cardinal Robert Sarah. The former Pope’s name was removed from the cover, evidently at the urgent request of top Vatican officials. Archbishop Gänswein said that Benedict had not approved the cover or the use of his name as co-author. Cardinal Sarah contradicted that claim, saying that the former Pope had fully endorsed the project.

The book itself put considerable pressure on Pope Francis, who will soon release an apostolic exhortation that, according to rumor, will relax the celibacy discipline. The Pope’s allies attacked Cardinal Sarah, charging that he had exploited the former Pontiff. Cardinal Sarah responded by posting copies of letters that he had received from Benedict, supporting the book project.


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  • Posted by: filioque - Feb. 05, 2020 7:30 PM ET USA

    Archbishop Gänswein should have stood up for the truth and Benedict XVI in the first place. Yes, he would have been fired, but that was going to happen anyway because he had let the situation develop. But he could have gone with honor.