Rome, Italy, Aug 3, 2006 / 22:00 pm
In an interview with Vatican Radio, Pope Benedict XVI’s personal secretary revealed that if there is any one thing that is present in all that the Holy Father says and does, it is his desire to show that only, “the faith makes living joyful and brings joy to life.”
Father Georg Gänswein was named personal secretary of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2003 and has remained in the post as his papal secretary. On the occasion of his 50th birthday, he granted an interview to Vatican Radio in which he revealed that the daily life of the Holy Father is filled with work but that he always has time for prayer and meditation.
The German priest says that what has stood out most during the first year of Benedict XVI’s pontificate is his desire to show, both in word and in deed, that true joy in life comes from the faith. “This is present in everything he says…and this joy of the faith should infect us as well,” he said.
The Pope’s day begins with Mass at 7am, followed by Morning Prayer and a period of contemplation and silence before the Lord. Afterwards we eat breakfast together, and my day then begins with sorting through the correspondence, which arrives every day in considerable quantity. The day continues with a brief conversation with the Holy Father and then I accompany him, as is the custom, to the private audiences that take place before midday in the ‘Seconda Logia.’ Afterward we eat lunch together and then take a short walk before resting. The second half of our day begins with perusing correspondence again, and I present to the Pope that which is most important and which requires his signature, or his study and approval. Naturally there are a host of things that come to the attention of the Holy Father but that are not, as such, part of the ordinary routine and that are of a second, third or fourth order,” Father Georg explained. He added that one of his main tasks is to “protect the Holy Father from the enormous amount of mail, papers, and letters so that he can do what truly needs to be done, with due tranquility.”
Father Georg noted that there are, “some things that must be kept confidential and out of the public eye,” and consequently this responsibility, “is for me a sign of the trust the Holy Father has in me, and therefore in everything I do and say, and don’t say, I try to always remain worthy of this trust.”
Having known the Pope for eleven years, Father Georg says he sees no difference between Joseph Ratzinger the cardinal and Joseph Ratzinger the Pope. “Of course, the office accentuates certain characteristics, but his personality, his friendliness and his brilliance are the same as ever,” he noted.
Father Georg added that because he works closely with the pontiff every day he does not feel much nervousness. “But of course I know well who the Holy Father is and therefore when I am with him, I behave accordingly. Nevertheless, there are times when my heart does begin to pound a bit more than normal,” he joked.