Thursday, February 28, 2013

Benedict Takes Georg Gänswein with Him to Retirement: People Will Talk

I wrote recently that people will talk about the arrangement made by Benedict to retire inside the Vatican with his personal secretary Georg Gänswein. And here's some of the talk as Benedict retires:

So Benedict’s handsome male companion will continue to live with him, while working for the other Pope during the day. Are we supposed to think that’s, well, a normal arrangement? I wrote a while back about Gänswein’s intense relationship with Ratzinger, while noting Colm Toibin’s review of Angelo Quattrochi’s exploration of Benedict, "Is The Pope Gay?". Here’s Toibin getting to some interesting stuff:  
"Gänswein is remarkably handsome, a cross between George Clooney and Hugh Grant, but, in a way, more beautiful than either. In a radio interview Gänswein described a day in his life and the life of Ratzinger, now that he is pope:  
'The pope’s day begins with the seven o’clock Mass, then he says prayers with his breviary, followed by a period of silent contemplation before our Lord. Then we have breakfast together, and so I begin the day’s work by going through the correspondence. Then I exchange ideas with the Holy Father, then I accompany him to the "Second Loggia" for the private midday audiences. Then we have lunch together; after the meal we go for a little walk before taking a nap. In the afternoon I again take care of the correspondence. I take the most important stuff which needs his signature to the Holy Father.' 
When asked if he felt nervous in the presence of the Holy Father, Gänswein replied that he sometimes did and added: 'But it is also true that the fact of meeting each other and being together on a daily basis creates a sense of "familiarity", which makes you feel less nervous. But obviously I know who the Holy Father is and so I know how to behave appropriately. There are always some situations, however, when the heart beats a little stronger than usual.'"
This man – clearly in some kind of love with Ratzinger (and vice-versa) will now be working for the new Pope as secretary in the day and spending the nights with the Pope Emeritus. This is not the Vatican. It’s Melrose Place.

And here's Jayden Cameron of the Gay Mystic blog commenting at Bilgrimage yesterday:

And of course he's retiring into relative solitude with his beloved secretary/archbishop at his side, Georg Ganswein. There's no need to make a campy joke out of this (not really in my nature) in order to point out the evident contradiction. This is probably what haunts me the most about these final days, the image of this deeply repressed gay man -who has caused so much harm to gay people within and without the church - slipping into retirement with his strikingly handsome assistant by his side, as well as the mechanisms of denial firmly intact within his psyche that prevent him from recognizing the absurdity of this relationship and the evident neediness it gives witness to. I'm getting ready to post on this subject tomorrow, making reference to Colm Toibin's 2010 article on "the Catholic Church and the Homosexuality Question." This is not the time for kindliness in response to Benedict, in my opinion, it is the time for retributive justice and some kind of "outing" of this deeply repressed, closeted, homophobic gay man.

People will talk. Especially when a public drama, a pageant, is taking place, and its meaning is clear to anyone with eyes wide open: a lavish spectacle revolving around what is to all appearances an unacknowledged homoerotic relationship in which one player has been the head of an organization that has consciously and willfully inflicted tremendous misery on gay human beings around the world. A head of that organization who himself has been personally responsible for ratcheting up the hateful attacks of that organization on gay human beings . . . .

Why on earth would people not talk about this? And why on earth shouldn't they?

For my own reflections on the Colm Tóibín essay to which Andrew Sullivan links above, see my "Colm Tóibín on Gay Culture in the Catholic Hierarchy: Now You See, Now You Don't" from August 2010.

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