John-Henry Westen

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Pope Benedict’s secretary sees continuity between Benedict and Francis

John-Henry Westen
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VATICAN CITY, January 10, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A few days after a Vatican bishop made a televised comment about a “discontinuity” between Pope Francis and Pope Benedict, Pope Benedict’s private secretary Archbishop Georg Ganswein gave an exclusive New Year's Day interview to German media stating the opposite.

Archbishop Ganswein, who is tasked with the handling Pope Francis’ appointments as Prefect of the Papal Household in addition to remaining the personal secretary to Pope Benedict, was asked how close Benedict and Francis are on theological precepts.

While he began by noting that we “still have to get to know” Pope Francis “theologically,” Archbishop Ganswein said “I see an absolute continuity in content.” The Prefect added that the continuity is most evident in the encyclical Lumen Fidei, which Pope Francis completed for Pope Benedict after the latter’s retirement.

Asked to describe the theological differences between the two Popes, Ganswein said they have “different emphases” but not different content. “With Pope Benedict the discussion of faith and reason and relativism is always at the center, these are large topics which were of concern to Pope Benedict in the past years, while with Pope Francis these topics are of rather secondary importance thus far.”

Asked about the “revolution” called for in Pope Francis’ exhortation The Gospel of Joy, Ganswein said he would not call it a revolution, adding that the Church is always reforming itself and “that’s not something that has only now been realized with Pope Francis.”

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Along those same lines, the Prefect of the Papal Household responded to Pope Francis addressing hot topics with mercy rather than chastisement. “It’s not as if these topics had been overlooked for 20 years,” he said. “Rather they have been mentioned daily or very often, and Pope Benedict also tried to give the answers required by faith. That’s what Pope Francis will try to do also.”

Archbishop Ganswein added, “The notion of mercy has not been established in the church by Pope Francis, rather it’s a classical notion that has been applied by the church for as long as it exists, especially in pastoral care.”

The archbishop noted that his own relationship with Pope Francis continues to grow in warmth, and he hopes it will grow further.

Beyond personalities and even the individuals concerned, Archbishop Ganswein’s assessment is based on the institution of the papacy being consistent. “The substance of the faith is the same substance,” for Pope Francis he said, “for his predecessors and for his successors.”

“The church is there for the people, for the faith,” Ganswein explained. “Pope Francis does not want to reform the faith, but the faithful, that’s a big difference.”

Gloria TV’s Eva Dopplebauer did a full translation of the transcript of Archbishop Ganswein’s interview into English.

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