VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI has named his personal secretary, Msgr. Georg Ganswein, an archbishop and the new prefect of the papal household.
The 56-year-old archbishop-designate began working with the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1996 in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. When the cardinal was elected Pope Benedict in 2005, Msgr. Ganswein, who was his personal secretary, moved with him into the papal apartments.
As the new prefect of the papal household, a position that involves organizing papal audiences, he succeeds U.S. Cardinal James M. Harvey, who joined the College of Cardinals in late November and was named archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said Dec. 7 that Archbishop-designate Ganswein would continue, for the time being, also serving as the pope’s personal secretary.
Born July 30, 1956, in Waldshut, Germany, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1984 for the Archdiocese of Freiburg im Breisgau.
After earning a degree in canon law from the Catholic theologian institute at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, he worked in the Freiburg archdiocesan tribunal before joining the staff of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments at the Vatican in 1995. He transferred to the doctrinal congregation a year later.
As Pope Benedict’s personal secretary, he has accompanied the pope at personal and private audiences at the Vatican and around the world.
He also frequently is asked to contribute to books about Pope Benedict, including children’s books such as the 2007 “Joseph and Chico: A Cat Recounts the Life of Pope Benedict XVI.”
In the book’s preface, Msgr. Ganswein told young readers he shares Chico’s opinion that “the Holy Father is a special person,” especially because “he is a sincere friend of Jesus.”