Archbishop Georg Gänswein was the personal secretary of the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. / Credit: ACI Press
CNA Newsroom, Jun 2, 2023 / 06:34 am (CNA).
According to a German newspaper report, Pope Francis ordered Archbishop Georg Gänswein to leave the Vatican and return to Germany by the end of June.
The longtime private secretary of Pope Benedict XVI has been told to return to his home diocese of Freiburg in southwest Germany but has not been given any role or assignment, the Welt newspaper reported on Friday.
According to CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language partner agency, the report claims Pope Francis informed the 66-year-old Gänswein of his decision during a private audience on May 19.
Gänswein had not responded to a request by CNA Deutsch by the time of publication, and the Vatican has not issued any communication on the matter.
The future role of the late Benedict’s secretary has been the subject of rumor and gossip across Rome and the Church in Germany for months. Previous speculations included the claim that Gänswein would serve as papal ambassador in Costa Rica. The eloquent prelate is fluent in several languages, including German and Italian.
According to the German media report, Pope Francis “referred to the custom that the former private secretaries of deceased popes did not remain in Rome.”
A longtime secretary to Benedict, Gänswein also served as prefect of the Papal Household to both Benedict and his successor, Pope Francis, until February 2020.
Hailing from the Black Forest region of Germany, the son of a blacksmith was ordained a priest in 1984 by Archbishop Oskar Saier in Freiburg and holds a doctorate in canon law from Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich.
Gänswein is expected in Germany later this week: He is scheduled to preside over Mass on Sunday, June 4, for an annual pilgrimage to the Cistercian monastery of Stiepel near Bochum, in Western Germany.