Pope Francis Removes Long-Time Benedict Aide

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    The Facts

    • Pope Francis has ordered the removal of Archbishop Georg Gänswein, a close aide and confidant of the late Pope Benedict XVI, sending him back to his native Germany by the end of the month without any new assignment.

    • In February, Gänswein had “concluded his assignment as prefect of the Papal Household,” and the Vatican released a statement Thursday saying that Pope Francis “has directed that from July 1 Archbishop Gänswein return, for the time being, to his home diocese” of Freiburg, Germany.

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    It's quite obvious that there has been a falling out between Pope Francis and Archbishop Gänswein since his 2020 book written with Benedict. Add the fact that Gänswein released another book with an unfavorable view of Francis this year; it’s easy to connect the dots. Pope Francis clearly dislikes Gänswein and got rid of him as soon as he could following Benedict’s death.

    Narrative B

    While there may be some reason to speculate that Gänswein’s removal from his papal position is a sign of a deepening rift between Pope Francis and the long-term secretary of his predecessor, it's far more likely that the Vatican is following the standard practice of returning an aide home after a Pope’s death. There's nothing unusual about Gänswein returning to Germany now that Pope Benedict has passed, and it shouldn't be treated as something more than a standard operational move.

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