By Cindy Wooden
ROME (CNS) — The longtime personal secretary of Pope Benedict XVI said he recently discovered the late pope had five cousins who could inherit a small amount of money.
Archbishop Georg Gänswein told reporters March 19 that the small inheritance is money left in the late pope’s private bank account; he did not specify the amount, according to La Stampa, an Italian newspaper.
“I had thought that he had two relatives — cousins — but there are five cousins,” said the archbishop, who is executor of Pope Benedict’s estate. “By law, I must write to the cousins, who are his closest relatives, and by law I must ask them, ‘Do you accept the inheritance or not?'”
The inheritance, the archbishop said, does not include any payments or royalties from anything written by Pope Benedict before his election as pope in 2005, during his papacy or after his resignation in 2013. After becoming pope, he assigned all the copyrights and royalties to the Vatican publishing house.
Archbishop Gänswein also told reporters that, following the expressed desire of Pope Benedict, he has destroyed all his late boss’ personal correspondence.
“A pity? I thought so too,” he said, “but he gave this direction and there was no way out.”
The archbishop celebrated Mass at the Rome parish of Santa Maria Consolatrice, which was the titular church of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — the future pope — from 1977 to 1993. It also was the first Rome parish he visited after his election as pope.
The date of the celebration was the traditional feast of St. Joseph, the late pope’s name day.
According to Vatican News, Archbishop Gänswein gave the parish a white chasuble — the vestment priests wear when celebrating Mass — that had been made for and used by Pope Benedict. It features his coat of arms.
Responding to reporters’ questions, the archbishop said he still did not know what his next assignment would be and he described as “fake news” stories that Pope Francis was evicting him from the Vatican.