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Pope Benedict’s personal secretary, Msgr. Alfred Xuereb, recalls….

Rome: Msgr., who was his personal secretary for many years, said that Pope Benedict XVI, who was an incarnation of divinity, was fatherly. Alfred Xuereb recalls. For six years, Rev. Alfred Xuereb, a Maltese, was one of the Pope’s two personal secretaries. The service ended when the Pope resigned, but the relationship continued.

Two priests were always with the Pope. Archbishop Georg Ganswein, a native of Germany, was the other.

Xuereb left Benedict when he was asked to be Pope’s personal secretary. I went to Pope Benedict and wept in front of him before he went to the new pope.

Xuereb was appointed Archbishop and Apostolic Nuncio to South Korea and Mongolia in 2018 after serving with Pope for several years. He still resides there. He last paid the Pope a visit in September. Xuereb says that he used to talk about the old days for a long time, even though he was poor.

Six years is like 60 years.

The Pope’s residence in the Vatican was his personal secretary’s life. He worked, ate, and slept with Pope. That is why no one was as close to the Pope as he was.

He was with the Pope every day of the year except for four weeks in the summer when he would visit his mother in Gozo. Friends visiting Rome from Malta used to invite him to have dinner with them, but he would avoid it because he wanted to be with the Pope.

If he ever skipped a meal with the Pope, the Pope would inquire as to what he ate and how he was doing. For these investigations, the father felt a great affection for his son.

Xuereb also worked for Pope John Paul II, where he was in charge of greeting papal visitors and special guests at the Vatican. When Benedict was elected Pope in 2005, Xuereb continued in that role.

He was asked to become one of the private secretaries after two years. The task was to assist Pope with office matters such as phone calls and correspondence. Xuereb was a person who knew German well.

The Pope loved kittens.

Pope Benedict adored cats. Every year, when he was on vacation in Malta, Xuereb bought the “Cats of Malta” calendar for the Pope. He bought it from a specific store every year. The Pope debated which of the calendar cats was the most beautiful!

If he saw cats on the street while driving, he would pull over and speak with them. When asked what language he spoke to them, the Pope replied that they are like babies and can understand humans.

Xuereb was frequently mocked by the Pope for the heavy rains that flooded St. Peter’s Square on June 3, 2007, when George Preca was canonised as Malta’s first saint. He was also very interested in the religious traditions of Malta.

The Pope, who is also a pianist,

Pope Benedict was also a good piano player. Xuereb still remembers playing one of his favourite Maltese carols on the piano one Christmas.

A life taught by gratitude.

He also recalls seeing the Pope run to him when he saw him struggling to get up from the armchair after undergoing hernia surgery. The Pope taught me the best word: “thank you.” Every time he assisted in changing the Pope’s clothes for Mass, the Pope would say thank you.

He didn’t need it. because it was the pope. But he would do it, and he would be grateful for everything else that was done in the apartment. He was a remarkable person.

Endless prayers.

He used to get messages from people all over the world asking him to pray for them. He was the one who informed the Pope. He remembers the Pope, who did it without forgetting or stopping. Following the prayers of the patients from Malta and others, the Pope was eager to learn how they were doing.

Shocked, tearful decision.

His decision to step down as pope was shocking. It happened on February 11, 2013. He’d already told Xuereb about it two weeks before. The answer was to think again. “But it was known that such a major decision would be made after much deliberation,” Xuereb recalled.

Deposed Pope Benedict XVI flew by helicopter to the Vatican summer residence of Castel Gandolfo on February 28, 2013. Xuereb accompanied him. He recalls that he was constantly crying.

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