(©Ansa) Xuereb with Francis
Bergoglio’s secretary talks to Vatican Radio about his relationship with Francis and his separation from Benedict XVI
( Vatican Insider) – When, shortly after his election, Francis welcomed Mgr. Alfred Xuereb as his secretary, he made a “Popish joke” about a letter he received which he said spoke unfavourably of Xuereb. The letter was from Benedict XVI and in fact praised the Maltese prelate. Xuereb, who was nominated secretary of the Holy See’s new economic dicastery just a few days ago, talks about this in an interview with Vatican Radio.
“From 28 February, Benedict XVI’s last day as Pope and the day we left the Apostolic Palace forever to 15 March, so two days after the new Pope’s election, I stayed with the Pope Emeritus in Castel Gandolfo to keep him company and help him with secretarial work. When it came to the moment where we had to part ways was heartrending because I had had the fortune of living with him for five years and leaving him, being separated from him was very tough. Everything happened so quickly, I didn’t know I was going to have to pack my bags and leave Castel Gandolfo and Benedict XVI that very day. But the Vatican was telling me to hurry, pack my bags and get to St. Martha’s House because Pope Francis was even opening the door himself: he didn’t have a secretary to help him. I went to the chapel several times to meditate that morning because I felt a little bit confused. But I was certain, I had a strong feeling I was being guided from Above.”
“I went into into Pope Benedict’s study crying,” the Maltese prelate said during the interview, “I found it hard to speak but I tried to tell him how sad I was and how difficult our separation was for me. I thanked him for the fatherly kindness he had shown me. I assured him that the experiences I had in the Apostolic Palace with him helped me see “the things up there” much more clearly. Then I kneeled down to kiss his ring, which was no longer the fisherman’s ring and with his look of fatherly tenderness, he got up and blessed me.”