Rome: Francis Asks Archbishop Gänswein to Return to Germany

Source: FSSPX News

Msgr. Georg Gänswein with Pope Francis

The Holy See Press Office confirmed yesterday that Pope Francis has asked Archbishop Georg Gänswein to return to his home diocese in Germany, effective July 1. Die Welt newspaper reported that the Pope communicated his decision to the prelate in a private audience on May 19.

The private secretary to the late Benedict XVI has been ordered to return to his home diocese of Freiburg in southwestern Germany “for the time being,” according to a brief statement.

The Vatican also reported that Gänswein's role as Prefect of the Papal Household ended on February 28. Since then, no new function has been entrusted to him.

In recent months, several rumors have circulated about the possible destinations of the former assistant of Benedict XVI after his long stay in Rome. The latest reports a refusal to become bishop of a diocese, but this is only speculation.

Gänswein was heard as a witness by the Vatican Court regarding the trial on the financial management of the Pontifical Choir of the Sistine Chapel on June 12, 2023.

On September 12, 2018, Pope Francis requested an investigation into the management of the choir responsible for providing musical services during liturgical celebrations at the Vatican. Msgr. Massimo Palombella, Salesian, former director of the choir, Michelangelo Nardella, former financial director, and his wife Simona Rossi, are accused of embezzlement, money laundering, and fraud.

As noted, Archbishop Gänswein testified as a witness before the court. As Prefect of the Pontifical Household, he had direct responsibility for the choir at the time of the events, before its management was transferred to the competence of the Master of Pontifical Celebrations.

The court wished to hear the German prelate before his transfer abroad. His testimony of October 2, 2018, as part of the preliminary investigations, was read to him before the promoter of Justice. The prefect of the Pontifical Household confided in it that in 2014 he had received complaints against Maestro Palombella as being “excessively harsh,” from parents of the young singers in the choir. The prefect assured the court that he had spoken to the maestro to ask him to change his behavior. 

In 2018, Archbishop Gänswein began to “nurture suspicions,” albeit “without proof,” about the honesty of Michelangelo Nardella, and brought in the Vatican Financial Information Authority (AIF). The prefect finally discharged the financial control of the choir to a substitute of the Secretariat of State, affirming that it functioned “autonomously.”

Questioned by the defense, Archbishop Gänswein admitted having signed several documents acknowledging receipt of sums of money by the choir, and having authorized certain projects. “I gave my green light, … and then it was no longer my responsibility,” he assured the court.