VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis received Archbishop Georg Gänswein in a private audience Monday, as details of Gänswein’s upcoming book, which recounts his strained relationship with the Argentinian pontiff, emerged.
The meeting between the Pope and the late Pope Benedict XVI’s former secretary was listed in the Holy Seee Press Office’s daily bulletin on Monday. It was the only private meeting listed on Francis’ calendar for the day besides his annual meeting with ambassadors accredited to the Holy See.
The private audience took place shortly before Gänswein is due to publish his upcoming book, Nothing but the Truth: My Life with Benedict XVI, on January 12. The volume contains several criticisms of Pope Francis.
News broke of the book’s existence immediately following the death of Pope Benedict XVI on December 31.
LifeSiteNews has obtained a copy of the book, which provides inside details of Benedict’s life before and after his shock resignation, as well as during the pontificate of Pope Francis. Although due to be published less than two weeks after Benedict’s death, the text provides details of Benedict’s last days and death, as well as the funeral.
The text, while focussing on Benedict, nevertheless provides details of Gänswein’s relationship with Francis after Benedict’s resignation, while the archbishop was serving both as Benedict’s secretary and as Francis’ prefect of the Papal Household.
Gänswein recounts how, following the publication of Cardinal Robert Sarah’s book on priestly celibacy and the controversy that centered around it, he was punished by Pope Francis as a result. During the controversy, which played out very publicly, Gänswein met with Pope Francis about the matter and 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.
However, Gänswein also 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.”
Gänswein also provides brief details about Benedict’s reaction to certain controversial aspects of Francis’ papacy, noting that the German pope was “surprised” Francis ignored the Dubia and thought Traditionis Custodes was a “mistake.”
Alongside the book, Gänswein gave a separate interview to German news outlet Die Tagespost which was released on January 3 although it had been filmed some time before. In that interview, Gänswein stated that Benedict read Pope Francis’ Traditionis Custodes “with pain in his heart.”
“I believe that Pope Benedict read this motu proprio with pain in his heart because he wished to help those who wanted to find inner peace, also the liturgical peace, and to get them away from [Archbishop Marcel] Lefebvre. Those who simply found a home in the Old Mass,” Gänswein stated.
He added that “to take this treasure away from the people, I am not quite comfortable with that.”
With the time both of his upcoming book and the publication of the interview given to Die Tagespost, Gänswein appears to have been waiting only for Benedict’s death to release such memoirs and previously hidden details of the inside workings of the Vatican.
It remains to be seen whether Gänswein’s criticisms of Francis in his book will have an impact on how the archbishop is treated in the upcoming months.
With Gänswein having already publicly gone on record stating that he did not have the necessary “atmosphere of trust” with Pope Francis, it appears unlikely that he will remain as Prefect of the Papal Household, a role which he has held in name only since his de facto firing by Francis in 2020.