As everyone now knows, Archbishop Georg Gänswein has written a book entitled “Nient’ altro che la verità: La mia vita al fianco di Benedetto XVI” (Nothing but the truth: My life beside Pope Benedict XVI) (Piemme, 2023). So far, no English translation has been announced. Rorate has access to this book and is pleased to present the following section, “Interrupted pacification” (pp. 288-291), in English for the first time.
On July 16, 2021, Benedict XVI discovered, leafing through that afternoon’s L’Osservatore Romano, that Pope Francis had released the motu proprio Traditionis custodes on the use of the Roman liturgy prior to the 1970 reform. The subject matter was identical to that of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, which he had promulgated on July 7, 2007, and the mode of communication was also the same, through the accompaniment of a letter to illustrate the contents of the new text. Therefore, the Pope Emeritus read the document carefully, to understand its motivation and the details of the changes.
When I asked him for his opinion, he reiterated that the reigning Pontiff has the responsibility for decisions such as this and must act according to what he considers to be the good of the Church. But on a personal level, he found a definite change of course and considered it a mistake, as it jeopardized the attempt at pacification that had been made fourteen years earlier. Benedict in particular felt it was wrong to prohibit the celebration of Mass in the ancient rite in parish churches, as it is always dangerous to corner a group of faithful so as to make them feel persecuted and to inspire in them a sense of having to safeguard their identity at all costs in the face of the “enemy.”
After a couple of months, reading what Pope Francis had said on Sept. 12, 2021 during a conversation with Slovak Jesuits in Bratislava, the Pope Emeritus furrowed his brow at a statement of the pope’s: “Now I hope that with the decision to stop the automatism of the ancient rite we can return to the true intentions of Benedict XVI and John Paul II. My decision is the result of a consultation with all the bishops of the world made last year.”RORATE CÆLI: RORATE EXCLUSIVE: First translation of pages on ‘Traditionis Custodes’ from Gänswein’s new book