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Benedict XVI’s personal secretary: former Pope’s resignation "revolutionary and courageous”


(Vatican Radio) In an interview with the Vatican Television Center (CTV) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s personal secretary recalls the day on which Pope Francis’ predecessor announced his decision to resign. “The 11th of February last year was a very special day,” said Archbishop Georg Gänswein, a day he says was marked by feelings of “sadness and gratitude.”

“Clearly, taking one’s leave is always a sad thing, a thing that hurts, that is painful” says Gänswein who is also head of the papal household. “On the other hand, there was also the feeling of gratitude for these years that I was able to live near a great Pope. I knew about (the announcement) a little before, and certainly, when the Pope told me, he told me with orders not to tell anyone, and I did not say anything. I knew about it, however, at the moment he said it, I was shocked. For me, the last day of his pontificate was a day of great sorrow.”

One year on from that historic day, Gänswein reiterates his belief that Benedict’s resignation was an “act of great courage, even a revolutionary act, which opened up possibilities that no one at that moment could see.”

“The Pope said it himself, when he read out the text of his announcement, that he was no longer able to guide the barque of Peter, the Church of the Lord.” Gänswein describes the resignation as “an act of love for the Lord, for the Church and for the faithful, to step aside to open up the possibility to a person who has more strength who can continue his work.”

Gänswein says he “strongly” believes that Benedict’s gesture had a great impact on the faithful’s emotional reaction to Francis, saying that it “is an aspect that should not be underestimated.”


“We are all seeing the impact of Pope Francis on the world, not only on the faithful in the Church, but on the world; it is a huge impact, and this impact was also facilitated by Pope Benedict in his resignation. He opened up a possibility that until then was not there, and we see that Pope Francis has taken up this situation and we are pleased that today it is so. "


To celebrate its thirtieth anniversary, CTV has created a box set of five DVDs entitled “From Benedict to Francis,” showcasing recordings of the most important events marking the changeover of pontificates. The DVDs offer an archive of the period from February 11 to March 27, 2013 following the resignation of Benedict to Pope Francis’s first audience.