View From Rome
24 March 2016
View from Rome
Picture the scene. The new chief executive of a multinational organisation, whose appointment is seen as heralding a new phase in the company’s history, turns up for work on his first day to find his predecessor is still in the building. Not only that, the predecessor has set up an office just down the corridor and has promised his secretary that he can also work for the new boss.
This is the situation Pope Francis inherited. Following his dramatic resignation just over three years ago the Pope Emeritus decided, as he put it, to remain in the “enclosure of St Peter” living a life of prayer in the Vatican. Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who had been Benedict XVI’s private secretary for eight years – and remains in that role – is also prefect of the Papal Household for Francis. For his part, Francis has made the unusual arrangement work by embracing Benedict’s presence, describing it as like having a “wise grandfather at home”.
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