Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was laid to rest today as his coffin was entombed in a crypt below the St. Peter’s Basilica cathedral in the Vatican City.
Born Joseph Ratzinger, the previous pope died on 31 December, aged 95 and is the first pope in six centuries to retire. His requiem Mass was a rarity as the tradition for the dead pope could be led by a living one, Pope Francis.
Earlier on Thursday, the Vatican released the official history of Benedict’s life, a short document in Latin that was placed in a metal cylinder in his coffin before it was sealed, along with the coins and medallions minted during his papacy and his pallium stoles.
But the official history isn’t the only version of events we may hear about.
Benedict’s longtime secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, has written a tell-all memoir of his time serving the past pope.
The book, ‘_Nothing but the Truth: My Life Beside Pope Benedict XVI_’ promises to reveal the “blatant calumnies”, “dark manoeuvres”, mysteries and scandals that sullied the reputation of a pontiff best known for his historic resignation.
‘Nothing but the Truth’ will be released later this month.
Gaenswein is a 66-year-old German priest who stood by Benedict’s side for nearly three decades. First he was an official working for then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then starting in 2003 as Ratzinger’s personal secretary.
Gaenswein followed his boss to the Apostolic Palace as secretary when Ratzinger was elected pope in 2005. And in one of the most memorable images of Benedict’s final day as pope Feb. 28, 2013, Gaenswein wept as he accompanied Benedict through the frescoed halls of the Vatican, saying goodbye.
Gaenswein remained Benedict’s confidant and performed the anointing of the sick for him as well as informing Pope Francis of his death.
But what will Gaenswein’s tell-all book actually say?
The publisher has confirmed that Gaenswein will address the ‘Vatileaks’ scandal where Benedict’s butler leaked his personal correspondence. He will also discuss the clergy sex abuse scandals and the mysteries surrounding the 1983 disappearance of the 15-year-old daughter of a Vatican employee, Emanuela Orlandi.
In a recent interview, Gaenswein also discussed the time he tried to convince Benedict not to retire.
“He told me: ‘You can imagine I have thought long and hard about this, I’ve reflected, I’ve prayed, I’ve struggled. And now I’m communicating to you that a decision has been taken, it’s not up for discussion,’” Gaenswein recalled Benedict saying.
The book could be a fascinating insight into the machinations of one of the most powerful yet oblique governing organisations on the planet.
“Anyone who thinks there can be a calm papacy has got the wrong profession,” Gaenswein said.