A year ago, Pope Benedict announced he would retire. In doing so, he may have transformed the papacy from monarchy to presidency. In this rare interview, Benedict's closest aid - Archbishop Georg Ganswein - reveals how the Pope Emeritus now feels about that revolutionary decision, as well as criticisms of his papacy, as he lives out a retirement 'far from the world, but present in the Church.'
Reuters: This is a very particular anniversary for the Church but even for Benedict. How is he living these days and how is his health?
Gänswein: Pope Benedict is at peace with himself and I think he is even at peace with the Lord. He is well but certainly he is a person who carries the weight of his years. So, he is a man who is physically old but his spirit is very vivacious and very clear.
Reuters: Benedict was not always treated kindly by the media and by others. For example, some people say he did not get credit for introducing norms to confront the scandal of sexual abuse, either as a cardinal, or as a pope. Does he have any resentment for the credit he has not received?
Gänswein: No. It's clear that humanly speaking, many times, it is painful to see that what is written about someone does not correspond concretely to what was done. But the measure of one's work, of one's way of doing things, is not what the mass media write but what is just before God and before conscience.
Reuters: And even before history?
Gänswein: Yes, even before history. But the point of reference is conscience and God. And, if it is fair, history in the end will reflect this.
Reuters: What do you think the long-term judgment of the pontificate of Benedict XVI will be?
Gänswein: I am certain, indeed convinced, that history will offer a judgment that will be different than what one often read in the last years of his pontificate, because the sources are clear and clarity springs from them.
Reuters: Shortly before he stepped down, Benedict said he wanted to live hidden from the world. How does he spend his days?
Gänswein: Indeed, he is far from the world but he is present in the Church. His mission now, as he once said, is to help the Church and his successor, Pope Francis, through prayer. This is his first and most important task. But there are only 24 hours in a day. He studies, reads, handles correspondence and then there are people who visit him. We take walks praying the rosary, he often plays the piano, all this is done on a human scale for a man who is 86 years old.
Read full interview: Reuters Q&A with Archbishop Georg Gänswein in English and Italian (Reuters)
On anniversary of resignation, Benedict XVI has no regrets (The Washington Post)
One year ago, Pope Benedict XVI resigned. What a difference a year makes (National Catholic Reporter)
LISTEN: Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI a year from his resignation (Vatican Radio)