Thanks his successor the Pope emeritus can't rest well
Georg Ganswein is in Germany for a short period – although not apparently spending that much time at his home as he is making guest appearances at various shrines and churches - so it is interview season again and time to stir the pot. There will almost certainly be other interviews.
In an interview with the Augsburg Catholic Sunday newspaper he says Benedict is spending the summer in Rome rather than going to the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo. According to Ganswein, he is doing so because Pope Francis will not go to the villa in the Alban Hills. In August his brother Monsignor Georg Ratzinger will also visit him from Regensburg and will stay with him in Rome for a few weeks.
Gänswein, who is also the private secretary of Pope Emeritus, (we must not forget that essential claim to fame) regrets that the brothers are not going to Castel Gandolfo.The summer there was more pleasant than in Rome because the village lies 450 meters above Lake Albano. In the late afternoon there is always a slight and refreshing westerly wind from the sea. This is lacking in Rome in mid-summer.
Ganswein says that Benedict’s health is good given his age of 87 years, although he has some difficulties with walking, but his mind is bright and clear. He actively follows religious and political life. He reads newspapers, is well informed and receives visitors (filtered). He prays for his successor and for the whole Church in a special way.
Gänswein also confirmed that Benedict would never return to Bavaria. It is no secret that he misses his home because his roots are Bavarian. As he once said, his “heart beats Bavarian” and this phrase was used for the title of a book. In his thoughts he often visits his homeland and such memories give him much inner joy and consolation. In addition there still are many connections from his homeland, such as letters, visits and other contacts (all filtered) that bring Bavaria to the Vatican. Benedikt XVI. verbringt Sommer bewusst in Rom
The reason Benedict offered the Bavarian PM for not returning to Bavaria is that he now lives like an enclosed monk. If that is the case travelling to CG is not that different from travelling to Bavaria - they both involve leaving the “monastic” enclosure. In my opinion the whole monastic analogy just does not hold water and only serves to unnecessarily limit the options of the retired Benedict who is essentially living with a full papal household and not the life of an enclosed monk.
If there is real concern about keeping the “monastic” life yet escaping the summer heat there is no need to brave it out in the city. There are several beautiful and secure monasteries close to Rome where Benedict and his brother would be both comfortable and well cared for. Monte Cassino and Subiaco, both Benedictine houses well known to Joseph Ratzinger, are just two such monasteries and no accusations of extravagance could possibly be made if he went to one of them. It would certainly be less costly than running the full household. Of course, in monasteries (and in Bavaria) the current master of the household would not be in complete control. That might not suit him nearly as well as CG. Ganswein is keen to emphasise that Benedict will never return home, even for a visit. His brother is older than him, is less mobile than him, and he is virtually blind, yet he makes the trip to Rome three or four times a year to be with Benedict. That seems an odd and unequal arrangement. Repeating that Benedict will never return to Bavaria also begs another question – what if his brother, who is over 90, were to become seriously ill in Regensburg? Would Benedict sit tight in Rome, no matter what, rather than leave his "monastic" enclosure and return home to his brother’s side? When his sister became ill (and died) in 1991 he was grateful to have made it from Rome to her bedside before her death. Declaring so finally that Benedict will never visit his homeland again is unnecessarily confining.
Ganswein will be at the Marian shrine of Maria Vesperbild, in the diocese of Augsburg for the Feast of the Assumption when there is a Vigil with procession and candles. The shrine is run by his friend and fellow conservative Wilhelm Imkamp. Last year the guest prelate for the Assumption was the now ex Bishop of Limburg, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst. Ganswein unwisely defended him when his case was still being considered. He fell silent after TVE was removed. They belong to the very conservative faction in Germany that was most dismayed by the resignation of Benedict XVI and the election of such a different Pope as his successor.