Archbishop Gänswein: "there is a lot of rottenness inside the Church". Mary is not in need of reform.

On the occasion of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein held the festive service in Maria Vesperbild. He also has a personal connection with the place of pilgrimage, which he has now spoken about in an interview.

In the view of the former private secretary of Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, the high number of people leaving the Church in Germany is a sign "that there is a lot of rottenness inside the Church". "If the faith is no longer proclaimed powerfully and joyfully and there is much else going on that does not help the transmission of faith at all, then it is only a matter of time before a branch that is no longer nourished dries up and dies," Gänswein told the "Tagespost" (Thursday). He added: "Or, even worse: until the roots no longer nourish the tree." He described the pilgrimage site of Maria Vesperbild as "an antidote to the poison of the zeitgeist".

On the occasion of the Assumption of Mary, Gänswein had celebrated the festive service in the Swabian pilgrimage site of Maria Vesperbild on Tuesday evening. For him, the place of pilgrimage had always been a place "that invited me to pray, where I felt comfortable and where I could unload my burden - also sacramentally". He described Maria Vesperbild as a filling station for his personal faith. The many people who visited the place of pilgrimage every day showed "that they take something with them here for their own lives that they obviously don't get elsewhere". It was about "uncovering the inner sources of faith and making them flow and drawing strength and confidence from there".

Mary is not in need of reform

Asked about the lack of a popular altar in the shrine, Gänswein said he liked to celebrate at the high altar. "The orientation towards the East or "versus Dominum" - towards the Lord - also gives an inner gathering, which in my opinion takes nothing at all away from the prayer of those who join in celebrating Holy Mass." The common gaze towards the Lord is therefore not disturbing, but contributes to the gathering. "And that is what the Holy Mass is about: that one is oriented towards the Lord, prays to the Lord and receives the sacrament from the Lord."

Furthermore, with regard to the image of Mary of "Mary 2.0", Gänswein stressed that Mary herself was not in need of reform. "If Our Lady is taken out of the vitality of faith because one has a certain image of women, a distorted image of Mary is the result." The Archbishop described the Pietà in the high altar of Maria Vesperbild as a "symbol of motherliness, trust and devotion". "It does not express any lack, nor does it represent anything outdated that no longer fits in with the times. Motherliness fits into every time, even if some no longer consider it contemporary," Gänswein emphasised. The contemplation of the Pietà strengthened him personally and gave him inner strength.

The 67-year-old comes from the Black Forest and has been living in Freiburg for a few weeks. The long-time private secretary of Pope Benedict XVI was not given a new assignment in Rome after his death at the end of last year and was sent back to Germany. He also currently has no permanent employment in his home diocese.