Our friends at Rorate have published the English translation of key portions of the new book from the secretary of the late Pope Emeritus, Archbishop Georg Gänswein. The book is 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).
The first notable revelation is that His Holiness Pope Francis did not speak to his predecessor before issuing Traditionis Custodes. This is because the elderly Pontiff Emeritus learned about the decree from the newspaper. Quoting fromGänswein’s book linked above:
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.
As we have published regarding Andrea Grillo (here and here), by all accounts it appears that machinations from such men prevailed upon the Holy Father Francis to abrogate himself regarding the Latin Mass. These men have no love for Ratzinger nor his liturgical theology. As we discussed in yesterday’s podcast, men like this have been weaponising the Novus Ordo in order to undermine the dogmas of Trent… for decades.
That’s why they hate the Latin Mass.
His Excellency Gänswein relates that the Pontiff Emeritus thought that Traditionis Custodes was a “mistake” because it “jeopardized the attempt at pacification” discussing the pastoral situation without mentioning the deeper issue of continuity that Benedict emphasised elsewhere (more on that below).
The text goes on to point out how Benedict knew that the Novus Ordo did not fulfill Vatican II. As Mr. DiPippo wrote for us in an important article, Paul VI “‘implemented’ [Vatican II] in ways that thoroughly betrayed those documents.”
Ratzinger’s critical remarks about hyperpapalism and the Novus Ordo have always indirectly and gently criticised Papa Montini for betraying the Council and worked to correct that betrayal in his acts on the liturgy under John Paul II and then as Benedict XVI. As His Excellency notes regarding Summorum (against the misinformation contained in Traditionis Custodes):
[Benedict’s] only motivation was the desire to repair the great wound that had gradually been created, whether voluntarily or involuntarily [by Paul VI].
This is where His Excellency elaborates and refutes the misinformation about Summorum in a powerful way:
[Benedict] regularly asked the bishops during ad limina visits how the application of that legislation was progressing in their dioceses, always getting a positive feeling from it.
That is why to Pope Ratzinger that reference [by Francis] to his “true intentions” seemed incongruous, since, as we read in Light of the World, he had wanted “to make the ancient form more easily accessible above all in order to preserve the deep and unbroken link that exists in the history of the Church. We cannot say: it was all wrong before, but now it is all right. Indeed, in a community in which prayer and the Eucharist are the most important things, what used to be considered the most sacred thing cannot be considered entirely wrong. It was about reconciliation with one’s past, about the internal continuity of faith and prayer in the Church.”
It also remained mysterious to Benedict why the results of the consultation of the bishops done by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which would have allowed a more precise understanding of every implication of Pope Francis’s decision, were not disclosed.
We see already as the German Pontiff has barely been laid to rest a further attempt to silence Benedict’s legacy and his true theology of the liturgy. These revelations by Gänswein will likely not stop this effort, fueled, as it seems to be, by some mixture of heretical Lutheran poison among “Catholic” liturgists, an ideologically driven hyperpapalism, and what Cardinal Ratzinger already identified as “juridical positivism” when he discussed this with Arroyo back in 2003.
Mixed in with this are pious Catholics whose conscience is binding them in different directions, as the “god of confusion” reigns. This false idol is the work of the fallen angels. Thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ. And this is part of Benedict’s legacy. As His Excellency, Bishop Schneider said on Benedict:
[Summorum Pontificum] will go down in history as epoch-making. Pope Benedict XVI states that the traditional rite of the Holy Mass was never abrogated and should remain always in the Church, because what was holy for our forefathers and the Saints must be holy for us and the future generations as well… the pontificate of Benedict XVI was worthwhile for the only reason of having issued the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, with which began the healing of the wound in the Body of the Church, the wound which was caused by the attitude of rejection and hatred of the venerable and millennium-old rule of the prayer of the Church.
This pope was strong in faith, a true lover of the nonperishable beauty and firmness of the traditional rite of the Holy Mass, he gave primacy to prayer, to the supernatural view and to eternity. This legacy will overcome thanks the intervention of Divine Providence, which never abandons His Church, the current enormous doctrinal confusion, the creeping apostasy especially among a worldly and unbelieving caste of theologians, who are the new scribes and among a creeping apostasy of not a few high ranking clergy, who are the new Sadducees.
Timothy Flanders is the editor-in-chief of OnePeterFive. He is the author of City of God versus City of Man: The Battles of the Church from Antiquity to the Present and Introduction to the Holy Bible for Traditional Catholics. His writings have appeared at OnePeterFive and Crisis, as well as in Catholic Family News. In 2019 he founded The Meaning of Catholic, a lay apostolate dedicated to uniting Catholics against the enemies of Holy Church. He holds a degree in classical languages from Grand Valley State University and has done graduate work with the Catholic University of Ukraine. He lives in Michigan with his wife and six children.