Rorate Caeli

"Francis does to Georg Gänswein what the Jesuits did to him in Buenos Aires": Pack up and leave by February 1

Translated from InfoVaticana.

The German weekly Die Zeit has published the news that the Pope wants the former personal secretary of Benedict XVI far away from the Vatican.

According to German media, Archbishop Georg Gänswein has to move out of the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, Benedict XVI's retreat house, on February 1. According to Die Zeit, Father Georg was informed of the date of his expulsion from the Vatican residence on the same day as the funeral of the Pope Emeritus in a letter personally signed by Pope Francis.

On Monday, the Holy See Press Office announced that the Pope received Gänswein in private audience. Although the content of that conversation is unknown, several media outlets report that the archbishop was recalled earlier Saturday by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Pope Francis. Thus, rumors that the criticism of the Pope's 'gossip' during Sunday's Angelus was directed at Ratzinger's former personal secretary are gaining even more strength.

It is normal and understandable that Gänswein's book did not sit well within the Sacred Palaces, but what does not seem normal either - and even less so from a Pope who should adopt a paternal attitude - is to communicate to the archbishop that he must leave what has been his home until now on the same day of the funeral of his spiritual 'father'. Another decision of Francis, and not of his close circles but of the Pope himself, which does not go well with the synodal proclamations of mercy and compassion to which we are so accustomed. But all this has an explanation.

In May 2015, the English journalist Austen Ivereigh published a biography of Francis focused on his years in Argentina under the title The Great Reformer: Francis, Portrait of a Radical Pope.

Ivereigh recounts in the book how, as a result of Bergoglio's tension with the Jesuit provincials of Argentina, in 1990 Bergoglio was sent into exile in Cordoba, without charge. Shortly after Jorge Mario's departure to Cordoba, the archbishop of Buenos Aires at the time, Antonio Quarracino, asked Rome to have Bergoglio as auxiliary bishop. And he succeeded.

Vaticanist Sandro Magister wrote that "in the secret consultations that precede the appointment of each new bishop, that the superior general of the Jesuits, Kolvenbach, put in writing his negative judgment on Bergoglio's appointment. But he was not heard. However, there is an episode, immediately after Bergoglio's consecration as bishop, in the summer of 1992, that shows how bitter the disagreement between the two remained."

While waiting for his new home to be established, Bergoglio stayed at the house of the Jesuit curia in Buenos Aires, where his arch-rival Garcia-Mata had become provincial in the interim.

Journalist Ivereigh writes in the book that "Bergoglio accused García-Mata of defaming him in a report the provincial had sent to Rome (the report was secret, but one of the consultants had informed Bergoglio), while García-Mata felt threatened by the popularity the new bishop enjoyed among the younger Jesuits." Ivereigh states that "if he wanted him to leave, Bergoglio said, he had to notify him officially. Garcia-Mata then wrote to Kolvenbach, who supported his decision. The Jesuit general's letter was left in Bergoglio's room. And Garcia-Mata received a written reply from Bergoglio, informing him of his departure date."

Now, history repeats itself, with a common protagonist but on the opposite side of history. The most striking thing - coincidence or not - are the years that have passed between one story and the other: 33 years from when in 1990 Bergoglio was forced to leave the Jesuit residence to the year 2023, when Francis now orders Gänswein to leave his home in the Vatican.

From this story one can draw the conclusion of the parallelism between what Bergoglio suffered and what has just happened to Gänswein. But in this situation, when someone suffers a grievance, one can act in two ways, either to repeat it with others or to spare others out of compassion, knowing what it is to have suffered from the wisdom of personal experience. In this case, Francis seems to have opted for the first option and does not want to spare Gänswein what the Jesuit Provincials did to him in Argentina.