Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was buried today as his coffin was interred in the crypt beneath the cathedral of St. Peter in the Vatican.
Born Joseph Ratzinger, the previous pope died on December 31 at the age of 95, making him the first pope in six centuries to retire. His funeral mass was rare because the tradition for the late pope may have been led by a living Pope Francis.
Earlier on Thursday at Vatican published 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 coins and medallions minted during his pontificate and pallium stoles.
But the official story is not the only one version of events we can hear about.
Benedict’s longtime secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, wrote a memoir of his service to the former pope.
Nothing But the Truth: My Life Next to Pope Benedict XVI promises to expose the “flagrant calumnies,” “dark maneuvers,” secrets, and scandals that have tarnished the reputation of the pope 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 almost three decades. First, he was an official working for the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and then, from 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 last day as pope on February 28, 2013, Gaenswein wept as he accompanied Benedict through the frescoed halls of the Vatican, saying goodbye.
Gaenswein remained Benedict’s confidante and administered the anointing of the sick to him, and also informed Pope Francis of his death.
But what will Gaenswein’s entire book really say?
The publisher has confirmed that Gaenswein will handle the “Vatileaks” affair, in which Benedict’s valet leaked his personal correspondence. He will also discuss scandals related to the sexual abuse of clergy and the mysteries of 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’ve thought long and hard about it, I’ve wondered, I’ve prayed, I’ve fought. And now I inform you that the decision has been made and is not up for discussion’” Gaenswein remembered Benedict’s words.
The book can be a fascinating insight into the machinations of one of the most powerful yet oblique ruling organizations on the planet.
“Anyone who thinks the papacy can be peaceful is in the wrong profession,” Gaenswein said.