Pope Benedict XVI promotes personal secretary to head of household

Vatican City

Pope Benedict XVI on Friday promoted his personal secretary to head of the papal household, giving Msgr. Georg Gaenswein even larger influence in organizing the aging pontiff's schedule and meetings.

Gaenswein has been Benedict's closest aide since his election in 2005, and also served as secretary when then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger headed the Vatican's doctrinal office.

The German-born Gaenswein was appointed prefect of the papal household, replacing American Archbishop James Harvey, who was recently made a cardinal.

Already an influential figure in the Vatican for his constant contact with the pope, Gaenswein, 56, will now have the final word in deciding who meets the pope and in arranging his public audiences. He will also be made an archbishop.

As the 85-year-old Benedict starts looking frailer, Gaenswein's role is bound to become increasingly significant.

Don't miss a thing! Get NCR's free newsletter.

His promotion mirrors that of Pope John Paul II's all-powerful personal secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was made assistant prefect of the papal household in the last years of John Paul's papacy.

Gaenswein's appointment comes on the heels of the Vatileaks scandal, which shook the closely knit papal household when Benedict's personal assistant, Paolo Gabriele, stole the pontiff's private papers and leaked them to the press.

Gabriele, who is now serving an 18-month jail term in a Vatican cell, said during his trial that he had photocopied confidential documents in the office Gaenswein shares with the pope's second secretary, a Maltese priest.

Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg


NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at Disqus.com/verify.
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.



NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017