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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, flanked by Prefect of the Pontifical House and his former personal secretary Georg Ganswein (R) arrives at the Holy Mass for the closing of Extraordinary Synod held by Pope Francis at St. Peter's Square on October 19, 2014, in the Vatican CityPhoto by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Benedict XVI’s former secretary has made further revelations about the late Pope’s relationship with Pope Francis, and how the German Pope reacted to controversial aspects of his successor’s papacy. 

Archbishop Georg Gänswein, the former aide and secretary of the late Benedict XVI, made these statements in his upcoming book Nothing but the Truth: My Life with Benedict XVI. LifeSiteNews has obtained a copy of the book, due to be published January 12, which provides inside details of Benedict’s life, especially after his shock resignation and during the pontificate of Pope Francis.

Who knew about Pope Benedict’s resignation before it was announced?

While the announcement of a papal resignation took the world by storm on February 11, 2013, Gänswein’s text claims that a number of individuals already knew about Benedict’s intentions by that stage. Gänswein himself was first informed about it by Benedict XVI on September 25, 2012.

According to Gänswein, Benedict had planned to announce it at the annual Christmas curial address, December 21, 2012 with an end date for his pontificate of January 25, 2013. 

However, Gänswein argues that – along with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone – he persuaded the Pope to delay the announcement until February.

Given that the curial Lenten homilies would soon follow the February announcement, the preacher to the Papal household – Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi – was then also informed, so that he might suitably prepare his reflections.

Members of the Papal household were informed the week before the announcement.

So also was Benedict’s brother, Father Georg Ratzinger, told, along with the papal Master of Ceremonies Monsignor Guido Marini and Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office.


Cardinal Angelo Sodano, as dean of the College of Cardinals, was told February 8, as was an official in the Secretariat of State with responsibility for editing papal texts.

Gänswein also took pains to negate any arguments against the validity of Benedict XVI’s resignation. He argued that in making the resignation announcement: 

Benedict fulfilled exactly what the Code of Canon Law stipulates (can. 332 §2): “In the case that the Roman Pontiff renounces his office, it is re- required for validity that the renunciation be freely made and that it be duly manifested, it is not required instead that anyone accept it.” Obviously, in response to those who still claim that there is no formal record of that act, the date and the Pope’s autograph signature were affixed to the paper and his declaration was verbalized by an apostolic protontary, who drew up the Consistory deed, which is kept in the appropriate archives for perpetual memory.”

Amoris Laetitia and ‘surprise’ that dubia went unanswered 

Referring to Benedict’s reaction to Pope Francis’s controversial document Amoris Laetitia, Gänswein stated that Benedict “questioned the meaning of some [foot]notes, which usually signal the citation of a source, while in this case they expressed significant content.” 

Following the debate that developed over the months thereafter, he still did not understand why a certain ambiguity had been allowed to hover in that document, allowing for non-unambiguous interpretations. 

However, as with many other aspects of Francis’s papacy noted in the book, Benedict refused to weigh in publicly, nor did he “respond to the questions that had come to him, since that would have been an illicit intrusion,” wrote Gänswein.

The Bavarian Pope also showed his surprise at Pope Francis’s handling of the dubia, submitted to Pope Francis by Cardinals Burke, Cafarra, Meisner, and Brandmüller. According to Gänswein, “Benedict was only humanly surprised at the absence of any hint of a reply from the pontiff, despite the fact that Francis normally showed himself willing to meet and talk to anyone.”

Gänswein did not shed any further light on Benedict’s thoughts on the matter of the dubia, however. 

READ: Pope Benedict thought Pope Francis’ restriction of the Latin Mass was a ‘mistake’: Abp. Gänswein reveals

LifeSiteNews has already reported on Pope Benedict’s reaction to Traditionis Custodes, and Pope Francis’s attack on Benedict’s Summorum Pontificum, a document which is widely regarded on one of the highlights of Benedict’s papacy.

Papal apartments and Pope Francis’s ‘humble’ choice

Of note is that while Pope Francis’s stay in the Casa Santa Marta, instead of the Papal Apartments, was portrayed by his supporters as a sign of his humility and attention to cost-cutting, Gänswein rejects this notion.

He argues that the rooms available to Francis in the usual Papal Apartments “were equivalent to those of Francis in the Santa Marta Apartment; while all the other rooms – from the kitchen to the dining room, from the chapel to the rooms for the Particular Secretariat and other collaborators – in Santa Marta are equally available, albeit as part of the hotel complex.”

This is something which Henry Sire, author of The Dictator Pope, has also addressed, writing that the renovation of the Casa Santa Marta flat for Francis actually cost close to €2 million.

Furor over celibacy book and Gänswein’s role in Papal household

Following the publication of Cardinal Robert Sarah’s book on priestly celibacy and the controversy that centered around it, Gänswein appeared to state that Pope Francis punished him as a result. Pope Benedict’s name was listed alongside Sarah’s as co-author of the book, which appeared to be a public response to the Amazon Synod’s discussion of “viri probati,” or married priests. 

Pope Francis, flanked by Prefect of the Pontifical House and former personal secretary of Pope Benedict XVI, Georg Ganswein, holds his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square on April 16, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican.

Following the controversy, which was played out very publicly, Gänswein met with Pope Francis about the matter, where he was effectively fired as prefect of the Papal Household, while keeping the title. “From now on stay at home. Accompany Benedict, who needs you, and be a shield,” Francis reportedly said.

The Pope reportedly added that Gänswein would “remain prefect, but as of tomorrow you are not going back to work.”

Gänswein additionally mentioned that after just a “few months” of Francis’s pontificate, he deemed that the “atmosphere of trust” necessary for him to continue his role as prefect of the Papal Household “could not be created.”

Pope Benedict’s papers

One of the revelations made by Gänswein in his text is the matter of Benedict XVI’s private papers. According to the Pope’s longtime secretary, Benedict gave “precise instructions” regarding his personal library, Benedict’s own manuscripts, all the “the documents related to the [Second Vatican] Council and the correspondence.”

As for the late Pontiff’s private documents, though, Gänswein stated that they “must be destroyed…without exception and without loopholes,” something which Benedict reportedly “made explicit in black and white.”