Benedict XVI is ‘Full of Zest for Life,’ Says Archbishop Gänswein

“The art of dying well, that is, ars moriendi, is part of the Christian life. Pope Benedict has been doing that for many years,” Archbishop Gänswein said.

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI celebrates his 90th birthday (April 16) with Bavarian delegates in Vatican City on April 17, 2017. Also in attendance was Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, Benedict's 93-year-old brother, and Archbishop George Gänswein.
Pope emeritus Benedict XVI celebrates his 90th birthday (April 16) with Bavarian delegates in Vatican City on April 17, 2017. Also in attendance was Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, Benedict's 93-year-old brother, and Archbishop George Gänswein. (photo: EWTN/Paul Badde, Mazur/www.thepapalvisit.org.uk / Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY — Archbishop Georg Gänswein has said that Benedict XVI is “full of zest for life” after the pope emeritus expressed the hope that he would join his friends in heaven in a condolence message. 

Archbishop Gänswein, Benedict XVI’s private secretary, spoke to Germany’s Bild newspaper on Oct. 20 after media reports suggested that the 94-year-old retired pope had a “longing for death,” said CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner. 

“The art of dying well, that is, ars moriendi, is part of the Christian life. Pope Benedict has been doing that for many years,” Archbishop Gänswein said.

“Yet he is absolutely full of zest for life. He is stable in his physical weakness, crystal clear in his head, and blessed with his typical Bavarian humor.”

In a letter dated Oct. 2 and released by Wilhering Abbey in Austria, the retired German Pope said that the death of the Austrian Cistercian priest Father Gerhard Winkler had touched him profoundly. 

“The news of the passing of Prof. Dr. Gerhard Winkler  which you have conveyed to me, has affected me deeply. Among all colleagues and friends, he was the closest to me. His cheerfulness and deep faith always attracted me,” wrote Benedict XVI, who was pope from 2005 to 2013.

“Now he has arrived in the next world, where I am sure many friends are already waiting for him. I hope that I can join them soon.”

Archbishop Gänswein said that the letter was “lovingly intended” and came from the heart, but did not mean that Benedict XVI “no longer has any desire to live.” 

“On the contrary,” the German archbishop said.

Benedict XVI’s older brother, Georg, died in July 2020 at the age of 96. The pope emeritus made a four-day visit to Germany to say goodbye to his brother shortly before his death.

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