Benedict XVI Spent February 11th with "Serenity", Says Archbishop Ganswein

Says Letters Pope Emeritus Receives Give Him «Huge Consolation»

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Vatican Radio Italian has today published an interview by Alessandro Gisotti with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s private secretary and Prefect of the Papal Household, Archbishop Georg Ganswein. The interview begins with an account of how Pope Benedict spent last Tuesday, the first anniversary since he announced his resignation.

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Archbishop Ganswein: February 11 of this year was a day like all others: the morning began with Mass, then the Breviary, then breakfast and then the day continued. Of course, on that day we also spoke of February 11, 2013, which was a historic day, unforgettable for all those who lived it. We thought about it, we spoke about it, but nothing has changed up to February 11, 2014.

Did Pope Benedict spend it with his usual serenity?

Archbishop Ganswein: With his usual serenity – the same that he demonstrated immediately after February 11 of last year.

A year has gone by since that epochal gesture of the renunciation. How would you describe this very particular period for Pope Benedict?

Archbishop Ganswein: The key to the reading is what Pope Benedict himself said in his address of renunciation: the motive was the one [he gave then]. There were no other motives. Whoever looks for other motivations engages in speculation: there simply weren’t any. It was because he no longer has the strength to be a Pope serving who has the strength to guide the Church of Christ well. The act was an act of love, a courageous act, but also an act of great humility, of love for the Lord and for the Church. And this perhaps few – me included – understood it immediately and in this year I believe the awareness has grown that this act was a courageous, revolutionary, humble act which will surely bear fruit in the future.

Benedict XVI lives a life “hidden from the world,” as he himself has said. But his life isn’t isolated. What strikes you about the way the Pope Emeritus spends his day?

Archbishop Ganswein: What Father Lombardi said is beautiful: Pope Benedict lives hidden, discreet but not isolated because often discretion and reserve are confused with being isolated, and this isn’t true at all. Pope Benedict lives – as we know – in the Mater Ecclesia convent. He has his contacts, his daily rhythm: there are visitors, there is correspondence, there are also so many outside contacts. But he wished to live this way to pray for the Church and for his Successor and in this way he feels at ease.

A year ago many feared the unheard of, extraordinary coexistence between two Popes. We see, instead, that there is a naturalness of relations between these two servants of the Lord: they feel that they are — they have said it — truly brothers.

Archbishop Ganswein: It’s true. Many, I think, had this idea and this doubt: will coexistence between a Pope Emeritus and a reigning Pope be able to function? Whoever knows Pope Benedict would not doubt that he would not meddle in the government of his Successor. And so it’s been. But there was the beautiful thing that, immediately after the election, Pope Francis sought contact with his predecessor and this first contact was the beginning of a good, beautiful friendship which develops every day.

So many would like to meet with Pope Benedict again, to be able to speak with him. We know also that many write to Pope Benedict. What would you like to say to these faithful, and how does Pope Benedict receive this great love from so many?

Archbishop Ganswein: This is a huge consolation for Pope Benedict, which fills his heart with joy but also with gratitude to the persons who love him and to the Lord. It’s clear – and here also I ask for understanding – that it’s not possible for Pope Benedict to accept all the requests to be able to meet him, to be able to see him, because they are too many. They write not only from Italy but from the whole world. However, for this sign of closeness, for this sign of love, of affection, Pope Benedict is very, very grateful.


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