His secretary explains why he destroyed his personal documents

His secretary explains why he destroyed his personal documents

March 21, 2023 / 11:40 a.m.

Bishop Georg Gänswein, who was Pope Benedict XVI’s personal secretary for decades, explained that he has destroyed the late Pontiff’s most personal and private documents at his explicit request.

In statements to the Italian media on Sunday, March 19, the German Archbishop also clarified that there are no longer any unpublished writings of the Pope Emeritus, and that the last was the book by Benedict XVI published posthumously under the title “What is Christianity”.

“A shame? Yes, I told him that too, but he gave me this indication, there is no way back. There are no unpublished writings”, declared Bishop Gänswein.

The former secretary of Benedict XVI had already spoken of this demand of the Pope Emeritus in his memoirs, published after the death of the Pontiff under the title “Nient’altro che la verità. La mia vita al fanco di Benedetto XVI” (Nothing but the truth. My life with Benedict XVI).

In the book, which was published on January 12, 2023, the Archbishop explained that he had been asked what he would do with his documents and personal items after the death of Benedict XVI.

“Actually, this does not represent a problem for me, since I received precise instructions from him, with delivery instructions that I feel obliged to respect in conscience, regarding his library, the manuscripts of his books, the documentation related to the Council and the correspondence”, can be read in the book.

Bishop Gänswein also pointed out that “other personal items, from watches to pens, from paintings to liturgical furniture, were included in a list meticulously drawn up by Benedict XVI before he died.”

He recounted that part of these personal items have already been delivered to people close to him: “He has not forgotten anyone; collaborators, secretaries, seminarians, students, drivers, parish priests, friends”.

He explained that the rights of his books will remain in the hands of the Libreria Editrice Vaticana, the publishing house of the Holy See, and a part of them will go to the “Joseph Ratzinger Vatican Foundation”.

In addition, his personal library and the collection of music scores have been sent to various foundations in Bavaria, Germany.

Regarding his private documents, such as notes or personal letters, the secretary had also stressed in his memoirs that “his fate is sealed: Private sheets of all kinds must be destroyed. This applies without exception and without escape”, according to explicit provisions of Benedict XVI himself.


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