Archbishop Gänswein: "Benedict XVI Sees Resignation as Expanding Petrine Ministry".

In a speech reflecting on Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate, Archbishop Georg Gänswein has confirmed the existence of a group who fought against Benedict’s election in 2005, but stressed that "Vatileaks" or other issues had "little or nothing" to do with his resignation in 2013.

Speaking at the presentation of a new book on Benedict’s pontificate at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome May 20, Archbishop Gänswein also said that Pope Francis and Benedict are not two popes “in competition” with one another, but represent one “expanded” Petrine Office with “an active member” and a “contemplative.”

Archbishop Gänswein, who doubles as the personal secretary of the Pope Emeritus and prefect of the Pontifical Household, said Benedict did not abandon the papacy like Pope Celestine V in the 13th century but rather sought to continue his Petrine Office in a more appropriate way given his frailty.

“Therefore, from 11 February 2013, the papal ministry is not the same as before,” he said. “It is and remains the foundation of the Catholic Church; and yet it is a foundation that Benedict XVI has profoundly and lastingly transformed during his exceptional pontificate.”

Archbishop Gänswein: Benedict XVI Sees Resignation as Expanding Petrine Ministry

It would seeems that Catholic Church really have Two Popes both functioning and having a universal power emanating from the Chair of Peter since 2013.

Does the Vatican II Church affirmed the view of Arch.Ganswein on the expanded Petrine Ministry?

  • This in fact is a great question and deserves much more attention.
    – Ken Graham
    Dec 1, 2019 at 11:50

2 Answers 2


In a lecture in Rome, Gaenswein said (according to a report in the National Catholic Register) that Benedict had “left the papal throne” but had not “abandoned [the] ministry” he had accepted “in April 2005,” such that, while there are not “two popes,” there is “de facto” an “expanded” [Petrine] ministry – with an active member [i.e., Pope Francis] and a “contemplative member [i.e. Pope Emeritus Benedict].” That is why, Gaenswein continued, Benedict XVI “has not given up his name or the white cassock,” and why “he has also not retired to a monastery in isolation but stays within the Vatican – as if he has taken only one step to the side to make room for his successor and a new stage in the history of the papacy.”

Complete English Text: Archbishop Georg Gänswein’s ‘Expanded Petrine Office’ Speech: Benedict XVI’s personal secretary stresses there are not two popes, but “an active member and a contemplative member”.


Based on Arch.Gaenswein explanation he clarified that Pope Benedict XVI had abandoned the "papal throne" but had not abandoned the "ministry". And further stated it should not be understood as the Catholic Church having Two Popes but instead he used the term "expanded Petrine ministry".

From reading the text of Arch.Gaenswein it can be understood that Pope Benedict XVI has not abandoned the embraced responsibility of the Pope in praying for the Church the People of God towards it's mission on the salvation of souls.

Let's compare the personal testimony of Pope Benedict XVI in his speech addressed.

BENEDICT XVI GENERAL AUDIENCE Saint Peter's Square Wednesday, 27 February 2013

1.I feel that I bear everyone in prayer, in a present, God’s present, in which I gather together every one of my meetings, journeys and pastoral visits. In prayer I gather each and all, in order to entrust them to the Lord: that we might be filled with the knowledge of his will, with all spiritual wisdom and understanding, and that we might lead a life worthy of him and of his love, bearing fruit in every good work (cf. Col 1:9-10).

2.In these last months I have felt my energies declining, and I have asked God insistently in prayer to grant me his light and to help me make the right decision, not for my own good, but for the good of the Church. I have taken this step with full awareness of its gravity and even its novelty, but with profound interior serenity. Loving the Church means also having the courage to make difficult, painful decisions, always looking to the good of the Church and not of oneself.

3.Here, allow me to go back once again to 19 April 2005. The real gravity of the decision was also due to the fact that from that moment on I was engaged always and forever by the Lord. Always – anyone who accepts the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and completely to everyone, to the whole Church. In a manner of speaking, the private dimension of his life is completely eliminated. I was able to experience, and I experience it even now, that one receives one’s life precisely when one gives it away. Earlier I said that many people who love the Lord also love the Successor of Saint Peter and feel great affection for him; that the Pope truly has brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, throughout the world, and that he feels secure in the embrace of your communion; because he no longer belongs to himself, he belongs to all and all belong to him.

4.The "always" is also a "for ever" – there can no longer be a return to the private sphere. My decision to resign the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this. I do not return to private life, to a life of travel, meetings, receptions, conferences, and so on. I am not abandoning the cross, but remaining in a new way at the side of the crucified Lord. I no longer bear the power of office for the governance of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, in the enclosure of Saint Peter. Saint Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, will be a great example for me in this. He showed us the way for a life which, whether active or passive, is completely given over to the work of God.

Here we can see that Pope Benedict XVI had affirmed what Arch.Gaenswein had stated that he did not renounce the "ministry of praying for the Church" and clearly stated by saying "I am not abondoning the cross.. but in the service of prayer I remain."

It is also worth noting that Pope Benedict XVI mentioned the he bear his chosen name Benedict who is well known as a Great Prayer Warrior or Great Intercessor.

To understand how great the power of intercession of St. Benedict is let us consider this story;

In one story of Benedict's life, a poor man came to the monastery begging for a little oil. Although Benedict commanded that the oil be given, the cellarer refused -- because there was only a tiny bit of oil left. If the cellarer gave any oil as alms there would be none for the monastery. Angry at this distrust of God's providence, Benedict knelt down to pray. As he prayed a bubbling sound came from inside the oil jar. The monks watched in fascination as oil from God filled the vessel so completely that it overflowed, leaked out beneath the lid and finally pushed the cover off, cascading out on to the floor.

In Benedictine prayer, our hearts are the vessel empty of thoughts and intellectual striving. All that remains is the trust in God's providence to fill us. Emptying ourselves this way brings God's abundant goodness bubbling up in our hearts, first with an inspiration or two, and finally overflowing our heart with contemplative love.

St. Benedict of Nursia

Pope Benedict XVI also addressed the following words that shed more light on the intention of his resignation and acknowledge the legitimacy of Pope Francis.

The decision I have made, after much prayer, is the fruit of a serene trust in God’s will and a deep love of Christ’s Church. I will continue to accompany the Church with my prayers, and I ask each of you to pray for me and for the new Pope. In union with Mary and all the saints, let us entrust ourselves in faith and hope to God, who continues to watch over our lives and to guide the journey of the Church and our world along the paths of history.

GENERAL AUDIENCE Saint Peter's Square Wednesday, 27 February 2013

In closing, we can view the meaning of the "expanded Petrine ministry" as the Papacy's "contemplative ministry" had been strengthen by the Wisdom of God inspired to Pope Benedict XVI in purposely choosing the title "Emeritus" so that his offering of a life of prayer and sacrifices carries still the universal force of a Pope. Pope Benedict still retain the "munus" and still wear the White Robe and still addressed as "Your Holiness" but as far as his testimonies and numerous videos are concerned he clearly acknowledges the legitimacy of the Papacy of Pope Francis.

The key word in his testimony is by acknowledging the mission of his chosen name St.Benedict a well known powerful Prayer Warrior/Intercessor which he intend to live and fulfill as long as he lives for the service of the Church. In reality Pope Francis is so blessed to have a Great Prayer Warrior inside the Vatican who did not abandon the Church and did not flee from the wolves rather Pope Benedict XVI courage has engage a direct spiritual combat with the wolves thru contemplative prayer.

The testimony of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI clearly debunked all conspiracy theories circling around the mainstrean and social media about the legitimacy of Pope Francis papacy and the issues on his forced resignation are all false.


What does it mean when Archbishop Ganswein stated that Pope Benedict XVI expanded the Petrine Ministry?

Unum Nessesarium or “One Thing is Necessary” answers this whole question.

Let me explain!

Basically the response to this question boils down to the sisters Mary and Martha moment.

At the Home of Martha and Mary

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Both Mary and Martha had a deep faith in Jesus Christ and both are recognized saints in the Catholic Church. Mary's faith lead her to a more contemplative form a prayer, while Martha's life of prayer combined both work and prayer. Both forms are excellent in their own way. However Mary is a more contemplative soul. Pope Benedict has chosen the better part, just like Mary!

The Church traditionally used the examples of Martha and Mary to distinguish the ways of perfection in the interior life of prayer.

In her later work, The Interior Castle, Teresa describes the journey towards God as moving through seven rooms, or mansions, of a castle, with the seventh room, the centre of the castle, representing the centre of the soul where God resides. Professor McGinn: “God lives and glows within the centre of the soul, because this is the part of the soul which has been created in the image and likeness of God.

“This is the highest level of union where a spiritual marriage takes place between God and the soul. One of the effects of this is the perfect uniting of Mary and Martha. Teresa writes: ‘Believe me, Martha and Mary must join together in order to show hospitality to the Lord and have him always present and not host him badly by failing to give him something to eat. How would Mary, always seated at his feet, provide him with food if her sister did not help her?’

“What is fundamental to recognize is that for Teresa action and contemplation are not opposed modes of life, but are interdependent and united….” - The power of uniting Mary and Martha

In fact, Archbishop Gänswein clearly states this in the article: Archbishop Gänswein: Benedict XVI Sees Resignation as Expanding Petrine Ministry

Speaking at the presentation of a new book on Benedict’s pontificate at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome May 20, Archbishop Gänswein also said that Pope Francis and Benedict are not two popes “in competition” with one another, but represent one “expanded” Petrine Office with “an active member” and a “contemplative.”

Thus Pope Emeritus Benedict has chosen the better part and it will not be taken away from him. His life is now one of contemplation.

For the record, there is only one active Sovereign Pontiff on the Chair of St. Peter.

“That is what I have said, indeed, that – if one wishes to specify it – it is very clear, the Plena Potestas, the Plenitudo Potestatis [full power, incarnate authority] is in the hands of Pope Francis. He is the man who has right now the succession of Peter. And then there are no difficulties left, as I also have said it. These two are also not in a competitive relationship. That is where one has to make use of common sense, as well as the Faith and a little bit of theology. Then one does not have at all difficulties to understand properly [sic] what I have said.“ - Archbishop Gänswein

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Since February 2013 the papal ministry is therefore no longer what it was before. It is and remains the foundation of the Catholic Church; and yet it is a foundation which Benedict XVI has profoundly and permanently transformed during his exceptional pontificate (Ausnahmepontifikat), regarding which the sober Cardinal Sodano, reacting simply and directly immediately after the surprising resignation, deeply moved and almost stunned, exclaimed that the news hit the cardinals who were gathered “like a bolt from out of the blue.” - Complete English Text: Archbishop Georg Gänswein’s ‘Expanded Petrine Office’ Speech

Thus the expanded ministry of the Patrice Office is that the present pope has an active ministry and the retired pope has a contemplative ministry.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is living a life of prayer!

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