Gozitan bishop Mgr Alfred Xuereb was one of a handful of people whom Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI confided in and informed them of his intention to resign the papacy.
The revelation comes in a new book titled “Cosa Resta Del Papato” (Edizioni Terra Santa) written by Francesco Antonio Grana. The Vatican expert of ilfattoquotidiano.it, retraces all the steps carried out by the German Pope in view of the resignation of the pontificate in February 11, 2013.
Benedict first spoke about it with his Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, on April 30, 2012, almost a year before he resigned. And then he revealed it to three other people very close to him: his confessor, a Polish priest of the Apostolic Penitentiary; his elder brother, Mgr Georg Ratzinger; and his personal secretary, Monsignor Georg Gänswein.
Until he confided it, on February 4, 2013, or a few days before the historic announcement, to the then President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, and, the next day, to Mgr Alfred Xuereb, who worked in the Roman Curia and was his second private secretary from 2007 to 2013 and to Pope Francis from 2013 to 2014.
In an interview he had given in 2018, Mgr Xuereb said that he can never forget the conversation between Francis and Benedict shortly after the former’s election to the Papacy.
Xuereb heard Benedict pledge to his successor: “Holiness, from this moment on, I promise you my total obedience and my prayers,” a word he has kept as he never said or did anything that could have been interpreted as undercutting Francis.
Mgr Xuereb, born October 14, 1958 in Victoria, Gozo, has been the Apostolic Nuncio to both South Korea and Mongolia since February 2018.