The Two Faces of Georg Ganswein

Rorate Caeli has published an excerpt, translated into English, taken from Archbishop Georg Gänswein’s highly anticipated “tell-all” book, Nothing but the truth: My life beside Pope Benedict XVI. 

Certain portions of the text are presented in boldface. These were presumably selected by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, whose byline appears on the post. Apparently, the criteria used for determining which parts of the excerpt merit highlighting is the degree to which the text appears to legitimize the cause of resistance.    

Here, we will look at some of the bolded text, but also other parts that failed to make the grade. In the process, readers will likely come to see Archbishop Gänswein less as a Superhero for tradition, and more as a duplicitous character who merely hints at his true allegiances.  

Indeed, the very first sentence of the excerpt strongly suggests that Gänswein’s book is deceptively named:

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 … the Pope Emeritus read the document carefully, to understand its motivation and the details of the changes.  

Does anyone really believe that Benedict didn’t know that Francis had published Traditionis Cojones until L’Osservatore Romano – and the afternoon edition at that! – had arrived? He was just “leafing through” the newspaper when, BAM!

Is that nothing but the truth? 

The very suggestion is so patently absurd as to beggar belief! Certainly, someone in the know had given Gänswein, and Benedict through him, a heads-up as to when the text was dropping. 

Readers may recall that the big story on Catholic social media in the months leading up to Jorge’s motu proprio on the Roman Rite was the rumor that it was in the works and soon to be published.

On June 3, 2021, more than a month before Benedict made his “discovery,” Catholic News Agency, quoting  “a source within” the Congregation for Divine Worship, reported:

Rumors about possible restrictions imposed on Summorum Pontificum spread last week after the Pope had a closed-door Q&A with the members of the Italian bishops conference gathered in Rome for their annual plenary assembly.

Speaking with the bishops, the pope indeed hinted at new regulations about the celebrations of the Mass in the extraordinary form, although he did not get into details, two bishops attending the conference told CNA. 

According to the sources, the pope did say that a third draft of the document is currently under study.  

OK, think this through, folks. Everyone with an interest in Catholic liturgy and an internet connection knew that TC was in the offing. Clerics with direct knowledge of the document were leaking information, that we now know to be true, regarding the text.

Sources within the CDW even informed CNA that it was actively studying “a third draft of the document” in early June. Clearly, those inclined to leak this information to the press were also keen to let Gänswein and Benedict know exactly when TC was going to be published.

Moreover, it seems entirely reasonable to assume that both men were provided an advance copy of the text. Even so, Gänswein leads readers to believe that Benedict’s first opportunity to read TC arrived thanks to the Vatican paperboy.  

What does it matter?

It matters because a man who plays fast and loose with otherwise trivial facts simply cannot be trusted. In other words, those who hold Gänswein up as some sort of warrior for tradition are either naïve in the extreme, or disingenuous opportunists themselves. 

While the appellation “controlled opposition” is overused nearly as much as “conspiracy theory,” it seems to fit Archbishop Gänswein like a glove.  

The excerpt goes on to say:  

When I asked him [BXVI] for his opinion, he reiterated that the reigning Pontiff has the responsibility for decisions such as this and must act according to what he considers to be the good of the Church. 

Are you members of the BXVI Fan Club paying attention? Benedict, according to his righthand man, “reiterated” (as in, these are things he has said on other occasions) several points:

  • Francis is the reigning Pontiff.
  • He alone bears responsibility to act in these liturgical matters.
  • His actions reflect what he, as pope, believes to be for our own good.

Gänswein continues:

But on a personal level, he found a definite change of course and considered it a mistake, as it jeopardized the attempt at pacification that had been made fourteen years earlier. 

NB: Having already established that Bergoglio is the reigning Pontiff who acts with conviction for the good of the Church, he shares Benedict’s personal opinion

Note well that neither Gänswein nor Benedict give any indication whatsoever that one does well to assert their own personal opinion over and against the Pontiff ‘s decisions. Of course, the tradservatives will treat these words as vindication and fuel for their cause of “resistance,” but they offer nothing of the kind.  

Also noteworthy, and telling with respect to Gänswein’s trustworthiness, is his suggestion that Summorum Pontificum was merely “an attempt at pacification” for the Church in general. Elsewhere in the translated excerpt he states:

With Summorum Pontificum he wanted to make it easier for a priest to celebrate with the ancient rite … His only motivation was the desire to repair the great wound that had gradually been created, whether voluntarily or involuntarily.

It was not an operation carried out clandestinely…

In a recent interview with the German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost, Gänswein elaborated:

I believe that Pope Benedict read this motu proprio [TC] with pain in his heart because he wished [via SP] to help those who wanted to find inner peace, also the liturgical peace, and to get them away from Lefebvre.

So, was repairing liturgical wounds that “gradually” appeared in the Church Benedict’s “only motivation,” or was he also very specifically motivated, and clandestinely so, to siphon souls out of the SSPX?  

Perhaps the desire to “get them away from Lefebvre” is mentioned in other parts of Gänswein’s book, but at this point his tongue appears forked.

In several places even within this relatively brief excerpt, Gänswein subtly encourages readers to believe there really is no rupture – liturgical or otherwise – between the Holy Catholic Church and the counterfeit that emerged from Vatican II. With respect to Benedict’s true intentions in Summorum Pontificum he writes, quoting Ratzinger’s 2010 book, 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.”

The above provides a shining example of Gänswein’s faccia doppia (see image) as he – like BXVI himself – appears to make a stand for tradition while, at one and the same time, peddling the conciliar, Novus Ordo, lie. 

The Rorate post (Kwasniewski) presents this entire paragraph in boldface, but one can be certain that the intent is to emphasize the middle two sentences exclusively. In “resistance” commentary moving forward, one can fully expect that the first and the last sentences will be all but ignored. 

Let’s consider them in isolation:

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 … It was about reconciliation with one’s past, about the internal continuity of faith and prayer in the Church.”

Ladies and gentlemen, if it is not evident to you yet that the link between the Church of history (pre-Vatican II) and the operation presently in occupation of the Vatican is well and truly broken, may God help you! 

There is no continuity of faith and prayer to be found in their respective liturgies! If pressed, Kwasniewski & Co. would be hard pressed to disagree, and yet Gänswein, like BXVI, is determined to convince the foolish otherwise.

Further revealing his true identity as a modernist in traditional clothing, Gänswein goes on to state: (Please excuse the length of the citation, the context is crucial.)

As an expert on Vatican II, Benedict remembered well how the Council had instead insisted that “the use of the Latin language, except for particular rights, should be preserved in the Latin rites” (Sacrosanctum Concilium 36) and that all seminarians should acquire “that knowledge of the Latin language which is necessary for understanding and using the sources of so many sciences and the documents of the Church” (Optatam totius 13). Not for nothing, Benedict had noted in the motu proprio Latina lingua, “are the liturgical books of the Roman rite, the most important documents of the Pontifical Magisterium, and the most solemn official acts of the Roman Pontiffs written in that language in their official form, precisely in order to highlight the universal character of the Church.”

As is evident in his writings, particularly The Feast of Faith (1984) and The Spirit of the Liturgy (2000), the theologian Ratzinger in the early days was favorable to liturgical reform: this topic [the use of the Latin language] was always among his favorites, as he considered it fundamental to the Catholic faith, and it was not by chance that he wanted the first publication of his Opera omnia to be the one dedicated to the liturgy, even though in the project plan it was the eleventh volume.

However, as he saw the subsequent developments of that [liturgical] reform, he realized the differences between what Vatican II wanted and what was instead done by the Consilium ad exsequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia (Committee for the carrying out of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy), with the liturgy then becoming a battleground for opposing sides, particularly by making the celebration in Latin the bulwark to be defended or the bastion to be torn down.

Pay close attention: Gänswein is plainly insisting – on behalf of, and with, BXVI – that the Council is blameless with respect to the liturgical disaster that is the Novus Ordo. This is utter nonsense as demonstrated HERE among other places on this blog.

Furthermore, the Latin language most certainly is not “the bulwark to be defended,” the hill to die on is in defense of the Holy Catholic faith, her doctrinal integrity, and her venerable liturgical traditions!

The problem with the Novus Ordo Missae is not that it is so often offered in the vernacular, nor that it doesn’t reflect the will of the Council, but rather that the newfangled rite “represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass .” (cf Ottaviani Intervention)

Gänswein, however, seems to be suggesting that the Novus Ordo in Latin is the way to relink [sic] the conciliar church and its liturgy with the Church of the past. 

Perhaps this hints at Bergoglio’s next move, a motu proprio “encouraging” as much while knowing full well that it is highly unlikely that priests stuck in Novus Ordoland are going to jump at the chance to put Latin lipstick on that pig. 

Lastly, Gänswein dutifully stressed what is perhaps Benedict’s most poisonous error:

It always remained clear to him, however, that there was only one rite, albeit with the co-presence of the ordinary and the extraordinary. 

In conclusion, based upon the excerpt provided by Rorate Caeli, it appears perfectly plain to me that Gänswein’s book will accomplish little more than tickling the ears of those who hunger for gossip, while feverishly fanning the flames of disunity by subtly encouraging the naïve to continue imagining that the conciliar counterfeit church is the Holy Roman Catholic Church.