VATICAN CITY, February 05, 2020 / 12:30 AM (CNA German) – Pope Francis has granted indefinite leave to Archbishop Georg Gänswein, prefect of the Prefecture of the Papal Household. Vatican circles confirmed a corresponding media report of the “Daily Mail” (Tagespost) on Wednesday morning to CNA German. He was granted leave to be able to dedicate more time to Benedict XVI.

The private secretary of the pope emeritus remains in office as head of the prefecture, which is responsible for preparing the pope’s public audiences. The prefect has been currently replaced at the papal audiences by the regent of the prefecture, Msgr. Leonardo Sapienza. When Gänswein will resume work in the prefecture is uncertain. (ganswein twitter)

According to the “Tagespost” story, the background is apparently the unfortunate presentation of Cardinal Robert Sarah’s book on the priesthood, to which Benedict XVI contributed an essay on the Catholic priesthood.


(JFL: According to a note from the Holy See Press Office: “The absence of Monsignor Gaenswein during certain audiences in recent weeks is due to an ordinary redistribution of the various duties and functions of the prefect of the pontifical house, who also covers the role of special secretary of the pope emeritus.”)

(The following hypotheses have also been offered: 1. it’s a question of health issues, or 2. the brouhaha that resulted from this: Para two of the Tagespost article “The background is apparently the unfortunate presentation of Cardinal Robert Sarah’s book on the priesthood, to which Benedict XVI contributed an essay on the Catholic priesthood. The Fayard publishing house in France at first gave the impression that both the pope emeritus and the prefect of the Congregation for Worship intended to dictate to the incumbent Pope how he would answer the question raised by the Amazon Synod of ‘viri probati’.”)



Following are my translations of Msgr. Vigano’s letter to Pope Francis in which he offers his resignation as prefect of the SPC, Secretariat for Communications, and the Holy Father’s letter in which he accepts that resignation but names Msgr. Vigano as assessor to the dicastery.

Vatican City, March 19, 2018

Holy Father,

In these last days there have been many polemics concerning a deed of mine that, beyond its intentions, has destabilized the complex and great work of reform that you entrusted to me in June 2015, work that, thanks to the contribution of many people, starting with the staff, is about to reach its final destination.

I thank you for the firm and paternal accompaniment that you have generously offered me over this time and for the renewed esteem you wished to show me in our most recent meeting.

In respect, however, for those who worked with me in these years, and to avoid having my person in some way delay, damage or even block what was established by the Motu proprio L’attuale contesto comunicativo of June 27, 2015 and, above all, out of love for the Church and for you, Holy Father, I ask you to receive my wish to step aside, if you wish it, and to be available to collaborate in some other way.

On the occasion of Christmas wishes to the Roman Curia in 2016, you reminded us how “the reform will be efficacious only if it takes place with ‘renewed’ people, not simply with ‘new’ people. It’s not enough to be content with changing personnel but rather leading the members of the Curia to be renewed spiritually, humanly and professionally. The reform of the Curia does not take place just by changing persons – that without a doubt is happening and will happen – but with inner conversion of people.

I believe that “stepping aside” can be for me a rich occasion for renewal or, recalling the encounter of Jesus with Nicodemus, a time in which to learn and “to be reborn from on high.” After all, it is not the Church of roles that you taught us to love and live, but rather that of service, a style I have always sought to live.

Holy Father, I thank you if you will except this desire of mine to step aside so that the Church and her path can be resumed with decision guided by the Spirit of God.

Asking you for your blessing I assure you of prayers for your ministry and for the path of the reform that has been undertaken.


Vatican City, March 21, 2018

Most Reverend Monsignor,

Following our recent encounter and, after having reflected and pondered at length the reasons for your request to take a step back in direct responsibilities of the dicastery for communications, I respect your decision and accept, but not without difficulty, your resignation as prefect.

I ask you, however, to remain at the dicastery, and I appoint you assessor for Dicastery for Communications to be able to give your human and professional contribution to the new prefect in the project of reform desired by the Council of Cardinals approved and regularly shared by me. This reform has almost reached its conclusive stage with the imminent merger of L’Osservatore Romano newspaper within the one communications system of the Holy See and the consolidation of the Vatican Printing Office.

The great commitment shown in these years in the new dicastery with the style of willing and docile debate that was shown among collaborators and with the organisms of the Roman Curia made evident how the reform of the Church is not above all a problem of an organizational chart but rather assuming a spirit of service.

While I thank you for your humility and your deep sensus ecclesia, I willingly bless you and entrust you to Mary.