Before any international trip Pope Francis visits Benedict XVI, a key Vatican archbishop revealed, noting the good relations between the two and how Pope Francis is carrying forward Benedict's vision. Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, who serves as prefect of the Pontifical Household, spoke in an all-out interview Aug. 15 with the Austrian Catholic press agency in “Kath.net” while he was in the diocese in Freibourg. There he led Aug. 13 the pilgrimage to the shrine of Lautenbach, in the territory of Oberkirch, where Archbishop Gaenswein served as a parish priest shortly after his priestly ordination. Asked about the “two Popes,” Archbishop Gaenswein underscored that “there is only one Pope,” and then stressed that he personally is acting as a “bridge” between Pope Francis and the former pontiff, given his double charge as prefect and personal secretary of Benedict XVI. “I live with Benedict XVI, I regularly meet with him in the morning for meals and during the evenings… so I work as a bridge, when Pope Francis and Benedict XVI want exchange messages, give one a phone call to the other, or even want to meet.” “Usually, Pope Francis pays a visit to Benedict XVI before every international trip,” and this has become a sort of habit like that of going to pray to the Basilica of Saint Mary the Major. Archbishop Gaenswein rejected any comparison between Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, since “the Pope is not the successor of his predecessor, but the successor of Peter,” and so the differences of personas is quite normal. “Comparing Pius XII with his successor John XXIII is like comparing day and night. And also Paul VI and John Paul II are very different,” the prefect explained. Archbishop Gaenswein also stressed that Pope Francis is following the line given by the speech Benedict XVI’s held in Freibourg Sep. 25, 2011. In that speech, Benedict XVI addressed the Church’s tendency to “become self-satisfied, settle down in this world, becomes self sufficient and adapt herself to the standards of the world,” and underscored that “not infrequently, Church gives greater weight to organization and institutionalization than to her vocation to open towards God, her vocation to opening up to the world towards the other.” These issues are recurrent themes of Pope Francis’ preaching, who had often spoke about them, also during his voyage to South Korea. In his meeting with Korean Bishops Aug. 14, Pope Francis underscored that “a prophetic witness to the Gospel presents particular challenges to the Church in Korea,” since the prosperous, yet increasingly secularized and materialistic society may tempt pastoral ministers lifestyle and mentality guided more by worldly criteria of success, and indeed power, than by the criteria which Jesus sets out in the Gospel.” Pope Francis inherited the search for a less worldly Church, and now this search is pervading the Curia reform. Archbishop Gaenswein explained that “Curia is living reform the way it was expected, who knows the Curia also know that the Curia is better of its fame. Roman Curia is very ancient, there is no century during which its structure had not been modified, and this is partly because of internal suggestions and partly because of external suggestions.”
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