From Secretary to Archbishop
With the departure of Pope Benedict XVI., the question coms up, which turns the career of his private secretary Georg Gänswein will take. The 56-year old southern German could become an important link between the old and the new Pope or take over one of the large German dioceses as Archbishop.
Even during the last hours bevore his retirement, the always loyal Gänswein did not leave the Pope’s side. He will also spend the upcoming weeks in the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo with him, and after that move in the convent of Mater Ecclesiae in the Vatican with the former Pope, which is being renovated for Benedict.
Benedict XVI. had installed Gänswein as the Prefect of the Papal Household only in December and simultaneously appointed him Archbishop. The new Archbishop was assigned the titular see “Urbs Salvia” (Italian: Urbisaglia) in the central Italian region of Marche. Thus, Monsignor Gänswein moved a bit up the stairs in the Church hierarchy, what had been expected in Rome for a long time.
Soon servant of two Popes?
Gänswein could subsequently come in for a double function: He is supposed to work for the old and the to be elected new Pope. Gänswein would “remain Prefect of the Papal Household, and secretary of Benedict,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi announced just recently.
The role of the Prefect of the Papal Household is a key role for the daily routine of the Pope, as he is among other things responsible for the reception of heads of state. Continuity on this field seems to make sense But it holds room for speculation: If he stays as private secretary intimately connected with Benedict and also organizes a part of the everyday life of the new Pope, it is likely to raise questions about whether or not Benedict would be trying to influence the church through Gänswein.