Gänswein on Francis, Benedict, women deacons, and his next appointment

Austrian Religion.orfciting the January edition of Cicero, quotes Archbishop Georg Gänswein, prefect of the papal household, as saying that Pope Francis will certainly not admit women to the diaconate. He considers this possibility “excluded.”

The longtime secretary of Pope Benedict XVI sharply criticized “certain forces” that wish usurp the new pope for their own interests. “But I scarcely believe that the pope will let his hand be forced by certain German initiatives in his pontificate.” (Several German dioceses have reported results of the synod questionnaire showing that even among engaged Catholics, Church teaching plays almost no role in their lives, with disagreement on some teachings extending to up to 90% of the faithful.)

For many who are now enthusiastic about Pope Francis, Gänswein predicted, “their jubilation will remain stuck in their throats.”

Archbishop Gänswein said that his work with Pope Francis is harmonious and trustful. But it is “clear that I was and am and will remain strongly attached to Pope Benedict emotionally.”

Gänswein does not expect to become a bishop in Germany. “In the naming of bishops in Freiburg, Cologne, Hamburg, the cathedral chapter elects from a three-name list presented by Rome. Therefore my chances of success are slim.”

An earlier version of this post had “many powerful interests” rather than “certain forces” to translate the German “manche Kräfte.”

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41 comments

  1. “their jubilation will remain stuck in their throats.”

    When I eat grapes, I chew fresh fruit carefully and swallow.

    Archbishop Gänswein suffers from the delusion that political liberals want political liberal change in the Church. Quite frankly, I’m happy with things being shaken up. I’m happy with more competence in the curia to deal with liturgy and the discernment of bishops.

    I’m not a fanboy of Pope Francis in the way so many Catholics are fangirls and boys of his predecessors. Apparently, a lot of us stuck it out through some very discouraging times. We didn’t exit. We didn’t become Episcopalians. Unlike a lot of the people that reform2 will supposedly win back to the right side of the Tiber.

    Pope Francis may or may not tackle matters of women and administration head on. But at some point somebody in Rome will have to. They don’t think fifty years of sexism (let alone significant outbreaks of misogyny) doesn’t have an effect on two, working on three generations of mothers, sisters, teachers, women religious, and peers who are less eager to give young men the thumbs up on discerning a vocation?

    Being the Jesuit he is, I trust Pope Francis will bring a wide swath of things to discernment that a theologian or a diocesan priest might not. Not only does he have the conservatives trembling in their shoes, but all the spinning is going to make a lot of people dizzy.

    The important thing–I feel the most important in today’s Church–is emphasizing the call of baptism for everybody. The deacons and the discernment will eventually work itself out. Lay people by the hundreds of thousands are already doing the work of diakonia. We don’t need a sacramental ritual–beyond baptism–to serve in the tradition of Stephen or Ephrem, Lydia or Prisca or Catherine or Hildegard.

    I do feel for Archbishop Gänswein. His world has been rocked. I hope he’s taking good care. After about a millennium of emphasis on Holy Orders, it’s about time we devoted a number of centuries to Baptism. Archbishop Gänswein was baptized once. I wonder if he reflects on its meaning for him today.

      1. @Phyllis Zagano – comment #18:
        O yes. But I was thinking of women brought up in the feminist era since the 60’s encouraging men (or not) on the basis of how other priests and the institution treat women. Theologians, religious, parish leaders, teachers, music directors …

        The scholarship of women in orders is another matter, and well worth a close examination. Bottom line is that the ordination of women is a matter not of faith or morals but administrative policy. Not an issue for the West until the 60’s at latest.

      2. @Todd Flowerday – comment #21:

        Todd,

        You keep repeating the assertion that women’s ordination is not a matter of faith, across a number of threads here, and it is still not true.

        I don’t want to derail this thread, but I have requested you back up this claim before, and you were unable to provide anything of substance.

        Therefore, unless you something new to add to the defence of this idea, it really should be laid to rest.

      3. @Scott Smith – comment #26:
        It’s not a matter of faith in God. It has no bearing on the human relationship with God, or with how we view God, or with how we live lives of virtue.

        That doesn’t mean it’s not a serious matter that impacts many believers. Administration of the Church is a vitally important aspect of how we Christians conduct ourselves within the Body and for the benefit of others.

        It has only been an issue recently, so there is no “deposit” of “T”radition beyond a century ago.

        And at the risk of echoing a “nyah, nyah, nyah,” I don’t recognize the attempt to impose a gag order on me, be it from you or from elsewhere. There are no theological obstacles to ordaining women, only administrative, plus the secondary concerns of unity.

        That said, I’m content to accept this administrative teaching. I have no desire to ordain a woman, to attend an ordination, to celebrate the sacraments with an ordained woman, or even to suggest this is the optimal time for women to be ordained. That should be enough. And for those for whom it is not enough, it probably reveals more their uneasiness on the issue than their wrap of orthodoxy or my supposed dissent. I accept the obligation not to support the ordination of women. I am not required to support silly reasons against it.

        Such attempts and those similar in tone serve mainly to alienate wide swaths of women and some men who, are in a far better position these days to encourage vocations than past and present CDF heads and their sympathetic theologians.

  2. Really?
    Based on conversation w/ Francis? Intuition? Second guessing?
    Maybe George has the bad taste of the SSPX stuck in his throat.
    As scripture states one cannot serve two masters.
    Time for Ganswein to join Burke, et al.

    1. @Dale R. Rodrigue – comment #2:
      Agree – why the focus and fascination with a curial functionary?

      Not only the quote Todd highlighted but: “Therefore my chances of success are slim.” (why shouldn’t they be slim….what qualifies him to be a bishop? the presumptioness is outstanding as is his resentment in the first quote)

      From a Richard Gaillardetz talk last week:

      “….wonderful passage that we find in sermon 340 of St. Augustine – it’s quoted in Lumen Gentium – when Augustine gets exactly right the relationship between Baptism and Orders. Augustine’s giving a sermon, and he says, “When I am frightened by who I am for you, a bishop, then I’m consoled by who I am with you, a Christian. The first is an office; the second is a grace. The first is fraught with danger, I might think I was better than you; in the second lies my salvation.” Augustine understood that we are first of all baptized followers of Jesus before we are anything else; and Francis puts that on full display, which is why Francis’ preferred language, interestingly, is not; he says it in a kind of perfunctory way to honor his predecessors, who emphasized the New Evangelization; but, in fact, his preferred language is not the New Evangelization. His preferred language is missionary discipleship.” (he might want to reflect on this)

      ‘So Unitatis Redintegratio §6 says, “Authentic reform will always consist in an increase of fidelity to what the Church is.” That’s what Vatican II said. How do you know whether reform is authentic or not? Authentic reform is going to make us more true to who we are. Now, what does Francis think we are? A missionary Church. Therefore all reform has got to be concerned with one thing: how do we do mission better? How do we go out and meet people where they are? What makes obsolete structures pass away, what leads to a change of heart in Christians, is precisely missionary spirit.” And we’re talking from the parish, to the diocese, to the universal Church needs to ask, “What’s getting in the way of our going out meeting people where they are?” We’re going to have to take a look at those things: if its law; if its custom; if its theology; frankly, even if its doctrine.”

      “Francis is recovering the priority of pastoral ministry. Pastoral ministry doesn’t think of ministers, ordained and lay, as arbiters of grace, but as facilitators of it. That’s precisely what makes ministry pastoral. And so in the spirit of that, he has renounced, for example, what he calls “spiritual worldliness”…what De Lubac means by that is a preoccupation with honor, privilege, status. (clericalism)

      Gaillardetz ends with something that reflects Dale’s comment….Francis is calling us from an *ultramontane papacy* to a *persuasive papacy*…Ganswein appears to only be able to function in the former; his time is past. Richard ended with two quotes: *truth is the daughter of time* and *you gotta be a learner before you can be a teacher*

    2. @Dale R. Rodrigue – comment #2:
      I thought Benedict and archbishop “Gorgeous” were suppose to retreat into the night, into obscurity to lead the simple life of hermits. A life confined to prayer, solitude, and penance.
      Both of them sound more like interfering relations trying to tell the head of the family how to run the household.

  3. I don’t know where to stick this in. Perhaps I missed a chance when there was a discussion of Ray Burke’s assertion that the curia is an essential part of the Church’s nature. In the last papacy the tendency was to make the Curia central to the Church and the Bishops marginal.

  4. Is there another symbol of clericalism that can hold a torch to a Curial archbishop. How does one act as a shepherd while managing the papal household? Or as secretary of a dicastery? I’m sure there is some diocese in Germany that he can be appointed to upon the death of the pope to whom he is so emotionally attached. Who knew that after more than thirty years of trying to correct the “abuses” of an “incorrect” understanding of Vatican II, a pope like Francis would be elected? One who not only would call all of us to a holiness of life that goes beyond a certain type of piety and rigid adherence to dogmatic formulations, but who would actually show us how to be holy. I hope there’s lots of people in the Vatican who have the pope’s back.

  5. It is clear, very clear, and not just from this one source vilified here in the most un-Pope Francis way possible, that this Pope is doctrinally orthodox and faithful to the Magisterium that preceded him for 2000 years and faithful to the Deposit of Faith. Those opposed to this fact and who see Pope Francis acting contrary to the Deposit of Faith are already seeing their jubilation getting stuck in their throats, a fact that the Head of the Papal Household makes marvelously clear. I think many wishful thinkers who want to manipulate this pope fail to make distinctions between personality and truth, pastoral sensitivities and doctrine. The giddiness is coming to an end and this is quite healthy for we have the most populist, autocratic and orthodox pope possible which makes many, no matter their ideology, insecure.

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #6:
      If you repeat this meme often enough, you might even believe it!!

      From Richard Gaillardetz quoting Francis:

      “I dream of a missionary option, that is a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures, can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.”
      Now, here, Francis is picking up another element of the council’s teaching, an element frankly that didn’t get a lot of attention from his predecessors, namely, Unitatis Redintegratio §6, which says, “Insofar as the Church is a human institution, it is always in need of reform and renewal;” not occasionally, like when we set the clock forward or back twice a year it is always in need of reform and renewal. Francis is committed to the idea that there’s an authentic self-preservation of the Church that only comes when we stop being concerned with maintenance and control, and start giving ourselves over in vulnerability and service of the world.” (it appears that your meme is the *wishful thinker who wants to manipulate this pope and fail to make distinctions between personality and truth, pastoral sensitivities and doctrine.*)

      And…..”rather the reform Francis is interested in “will result from the very dynamics of mission. What makes obsolete structures pass away, what leads to a change of heart in Christians, is precisely missionary spirit.” And we’re talking from the parish, to the diocese, to the universal Church needs to ask, “What’s getting in the way of we’re going out meeting people where they are?” We’re going to have to take a look at those things: if it’s law; if it’s custom; if it’s theology; frankly, even if it’s doctrine. With all the qualifications that need to be made in that regard, Francis is saying, “This is what needs to govern authentic reform.”

  6. I suggest that “manche Kräfte” is better translated as “certain forces” rather than “many powerful interests.” The translation above attributes too much influence to these advocates. The German phrase is also slightly dismissive in tone and indicates that Gänswein does not view them as a serious threat.

    1. @Joseph Anderson – comment #8:
      Joseph – very good! I agree, your translation is better. I thought “Kraft” should somehow be “power” so I said “powerful interests.” “Manche” is better translated “some” or “certain.” I will change it.
      Thanks.
      awr

  7. In addition, you say: “The giddiness is coming to an end and this is quite healthy for we have the most populist, autocratic and orthodox pope possible which makes many, no matter their ideology, insecure.”

    Again, from R. Gaillardetz on Francis:

    “Francis is arguing about the tendency we’ve seen particularly from some in the right in the Church that want to emphasize that Pope John thought of Vatican II, called for Vatican II, to be a pastoral council, which is true. But that’s been used to say, “Therefore, there’s no doctrinal significance to Vatican II. Vatican II is just about a new way of living out Church doctrine.” And he rightly says, “No! It’s not that simple.” What John XXIII was talking about was a different way of engaging our doctrinal tradition; and calls this the principle of the “pastorality of doctrine;” that it is not doctrine here and pastoral life there; it’s doctrine, which first of all almost always emerged out of a particular pastoral setting. To study the history of doctrine is to recognize that almost every significant doctrinal commitment of ours emerged out of pastoral context, out of a concern about the sacramental life of the Church, the liturgical life of the Church, ordinary spirituality. And so he wants to recover the idea that doctrine is always embedded in the pastoral life of the Church; and it’s always interpreted in pastoral contexts. And so it’s interesting that when Francis refers to doctrine – and, by the way, I think this is interesting because many more conservative commentators have made a big deal about the fact that, “Oh liberals, you know, they’re turning Francis into their own image; and the truth is he doesn’t disagree with Benedict on any Church doctrine.” This is that style versus substance. “He’s a different style Pope; but in substance he’s no different than his predecessors.” But that is a very artificial understanding of doctrine. I mean, it’s true insofar as it goes by the way; but anybody who thinks tomorrow he is going to write an encyclical calling for the ordination of women is probably getting their hopes up for something that isn’t going to happen; but, I think, it is missing a larger point here. Francis doesn’t think of doctrine that’s over here, these principles that we genuflect to, and then sort of apply in a unilateral way, in a directional way from doctrine to every specific situation.”

    So, who is *insecure*?

  8. The other interesting thing, of course, that speaks of the direction of things is that in the much touted Holy Father’s shake-up of the Congregation for Bishops, he confirmed its very orthodox head, added Card. Koch, of the Ratzinger school and did not name any lay women or men to it. What does that say?

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #11:
      It says that you’re seeing things and missing what’s going on.
      Koch is not head of Congregation for Bishops.
      No one I know expected lay men or lay women to be named at this point – if such a reform ever happened, it would be a part of a larger future plan.
      awr

  9. This piece about Archbishop Gänswein suddenly seems so last year. Does anyone else get the feeling that the boilerplate talking points favored by “traditionalists” and “progressives” are becoming…well, secondary? What Pope Francis seems to be doing is calling us back to our Gospel roots–to neglected expressions of “orthodoxy” recovered from the deeper vaults of the Deposit of Faith. He’s relentless about it too. And so far, no one seems to be getting a pass. Not a one of us.

    At long last maybe we Catholics will have to start considering whether our “turf wars” have distracted us from our true mission. I mean, so often Jesus is conspicuously absent in our heated ecclesiastical skirmishes. If Pope Francis keeps goading us, maybe a lot of us will have to start owning our “complicity in complacency”. If so, could that usher in a period of good old-fashioned biblical repentance for us? Sackcloth and ashes, anyone?

  10. “The giddiness is coming to an end…”

    Really?

    Well, I am still absolutely very giddy about Francis.

    Maybe at the ubertrad sites the giddiness for B16’s reforms is giving way to apoplexy. I hear that some of them are closing their eyes and tapping their red slippers together like Dorothy and saying three times “there’s no place like home”.

    Francis has singlehandedly brought the Church to the forefront and Christ’s great commission to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth is once again being taken seriously. The buzz out of Rome now isn’t what Benedict is wearing today but rather the buzz is about Christ, the Church and those the Church is commissioned to look after. I haven’t seen this amount of positive news for the Church in a long time!

    May he last for decades!

    1. @Dale R. Rodrigue – comment #17:
      What is truly sad, if I may reflect:

      Can remember those who attended VII and returned to the US to minister – some of my profs were periti; a couple of pastors who were seminarians in Rome during VII; one pastor who was in the Vatican news service. The excitement that went on for years; the recognition that something important and significant was happening.

      The same is happening for millions now with Francis.

      Contrast that with Allan who just returned from 4 months in Rome. Yet, no excitement; only *the sky is falling, the sky is falling* meme; discouragement; warnings, fear, etc.

      Ran into a few of these types while in the seminary – they were not involved in VII; rejected it; felt threatened; angry and resentful. They were difficult folks to live with and when they had to minister – the people felt it..

    1. @crystal watson – comment #23:

      “…a Jesuit pope would feel the way about women that Francis seems to…”

      And what way is that?

      Why does the issue of women’s ordination have to be the be-all and end-all when judging the Pope’s — or anyone else’s for that matter –views on women and their place, roles, rights and responsibilities in the church?

      @Brian Palmer – comment #22:

      Well, at the very least, nobody could accuse Pope Francis of silencing any voices!

  11. The Head of the Papal Household as well as personal secretary to Pope Benedict certainly knows of that of which he speaks and certainly his words come from the mouth of Pope Francis. We know very well what Pope Francis has said and modeled and don’t need to rely on others to interpret his words in a ghastly “spirit of Vatican II” way. Just listen to his words and see the meaning there. Of course we all know that the Pope’s words speak of fidelity to the Magisterium and Deposit of faith (two words that many here despise, but the Holy Father constantly uses as he likes to repeat himself) and he means these words for rank and file clergy and laity and also for curialists. And this morning in his curial Christmas speech, the Holy Father, Francis, repeated himself once more and held up as a model the curialists of the pre-Vatican II Church, many retiring who are of this image:

    (Speaking to retiring curialists):…This is something truly admirable. I have such high regard for these “Monsignori” who are cut from the same mould as the curiales of olden times, exemplary persons. We need them today, too!

    The Holy Father, Francis, said this very same thing early in his pontificate as well.

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #27:

      “…the Holy Father… held up as a model the curialists of the pre-Vatican II Church…

      No, he did not; nowhere in his speech did the Pope make any reference to the pre-Vatican II Church.

      The Pope, however, did specifically refer to and held up as a model “Saint Joseph, who was so silent yet so necessary at the side of Our Lady.”

      Being so silent yet so necessary, it is indeed something we all could ponder and aspire to.

      1. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #28:
        Pre-Vatican II is implied in the term “curiales of olden times, exemplary persons.” One cannot separate the Church these olden time curiales served from the person serving for the person serving was formed by that pre-Vatican II Church.

        You are correct, though, about St. Joseph and Our Lady and to ponder the truth in silence. Does that mean an end to dialogue as Pope Francis forcefully said about “women’s ordination?” Yes, I think he was asking for silence, but in the mode you highlight.

      2. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #31:
        Alan, your desperate attempts to make Pope Francis more like you, more conservative like you, are tendentious, inaccurate, and unconvincing. And it’s getting tiresome to hear these forced claims from you, over and over. I encourage you to stop repeating this line over and over, since no one is buying it.
        awr

      3. @Todd Flowerday – comment #35:
        To both of you – as I stated in #14, it can be amusing to watch a gerbil running in place with nowhere to go.

        The usual taking quotes out of context to fit the meme:

        http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/pope-says-vatican-shouldnt-be-bureaucratic-customs-house

        In terms of Allan, let’s quote Francis:

        “When professionalism is lacking, there is a slow drift downwards towards mediocrity,” (see numbers 31,27,16,11,6)

        “Dossiers become full of trite and lifeless information, and incapable of opening up lofty perspectives. Then too, when the attitude is no longer one of service to the particular churches and their bishops, the structure of the Curia turns into a ponderous, bureaucratic customs house, constantly inspecting and questioning, hindering the working of the Holy Spirit and the growth of God’s people.”

      4. @Kelly Marie Santini – comment #36:

        Huh? Where did I tell you to be quiet about anything?

        My reference to the Pope’s remark about being silent yet necessary was in regards to gossiping and chattering, and if I’m being honest, to Abp. Gänswein, the subject of this thread, who seems to be talking non-stop these days.

        So, either you misunderstood my post, or I must be missing something, in which case, please feel free to let me know what.

      5. @Kelly Marie Santini – comment #39:

        Read my response @ comment #37

        If you can’t see the difference between gossiping — which is what the Pope was referring to –and voicing opinions and engaging in discussions, then there is nothing more I can say.

  12. I dare not repeat what an earlier Archbishop of Canterbury wrote about Curialists, but he was a bit more civil than Fortescue, the darling of the ceremonialists.

  13. Elisabeth Ahn,

    How does the pope feel about women? He feels about them the way JPII felt about them – that they are ontologically different than men, different in God’s eyes.

    Why does the subject of women’s role in the church matter when judging Francis? Because we can’t compartmentalize moral issues – the way he treats marginalized groups like women says something important about him and justice.

    1. @crystal watson – comment #30:

      1. I do not know if the Pope feels that women are “ontologically different than men, different in God’s eyes,” but I do know that he’s never said such a thing.

      2. The subject of women’s role in the church absolutely matter when judging Francis. That was not my question. My question was: why does such discussion need to always revolve around the sole issue of women’s ordination?

      I guess I just do not understand, for I do not equate justice and equity for women in the Church with ordination. Nor do I understand some of the criticisms leveled at the Pope that are based on such line of thinking (i.e., Francis won’t allow women’s ordination, and therefore, he thinks less of women).

      A case in point: the other day, I read an article where the writer, a woman, lamented how few pictures there are of Francis and adult women (which btw is incorrect), and then, used that as an example of how he must view women differently, as a lesser being, that is — at which all I could do was silently roll my eyes.

      Regardless, I remain hopeful that the discussion about women, including one about the “more profound theology of women” the Pope has called for (whatever the heck that might mean), will happen, and that in due time, all the issues that need to be addressed will be addressed.

      Just because things are not developing in the exact way one had hoped it would doesn’t mean they are not happening at all.

    2. @Kelly Marie Santini – comment #38:
      Here you go – from last year in the Tablet:

      http://archive.thetablet.co.uk/article/20th-october-2012/14/open-the-lines-of-contact-mary-mcaleese-fifty-year

      Highlights:
      ‘In this moment, those who desire a truly collegial Church have no option but to look to Peter’s successor to push out into the deep, to open the closed doors and let the future in. “Quo vadis?” Christ is said to have once asked Peter. The answer changed the course of history. The same question is being asked again.”

  14. Elisabeth Ahn,

    I could quote every remark about women from every interview and speech the pope has done to try to show why I think he feels that women are ontolgically different than men, including his quoting of JPII that women have a special feminine genius, but I doubt you would be convinced. But if you are interested in the subject, try reading about how Edith Stein influenced JPII in the area of complementarianism and compare the theories of the “new feminism” to what Pope Francis has said about women.

    1. @crystal watson – comment #45:

      Why would you need to convince me? We disagree and that is fine.

      I am familiar with Pope JPII’s thoughts about women, although probably not as much as you and others may be. Thanks for the reference anyway.

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