popepanettaU.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta got a grip-and-grin with Benedict XVI at the Wednesday general audience. Also in this photo is the pope’s secretary, Msgr. Georg Ganswein. Guess which one made the new cover of Italy’s Vanity Fair? Answer below…

Yes, you guessed right! It is Ganswein, a newly-minted Archbishop — a promotion that makes him a more powerful gatekeeper than ever as the 85-year-old pope ages. Not that the monsignor needed more attention.

The blue-eyed Bavarian priest and longtime personal aide to Benedict, who is also from southern Germany, has been compared to George Clooney or Hugh Grant — hence the jibes inside the Vatican about “Gorgeous Georg” and the “Black Forest Adonis.”

Hence the magazine’s subhead: “It’s not a sin to be handsome.”

The Tablet’s Vatican correspondent Robert Mickens has a comprehensive profile of Ganswein.


“Pray for me,” Panetta, a weekly communicant, asked the pontiff. Audience photo via L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican daily.

Categories: Beliefs

David Gibson

David Gibson

David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He has written several books on Catholic topics. His latest book is on biblical artifacts: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery," which was also the basis of a popular CNN series.


  1. Still no word on who the purported mystery woman Italy’s new unlikely leading man is said to be serenading or if it’s just an attempt to paint the clergyman as a scandalous Hollywood matinee idol who can’t help misbehave…..not that the Pope’s good men ever misbehaved in the first place. Or do they…?


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