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Pope's secretary on Vanity Fair cover

posted 15 Jan 2013, 09:44 by Mpelembe   [ updated 15 Jan 2013, 09:45 ]

Archbishop Georg Ganswein, Pope Benedict's private secretary, is now a real-life cover boy. Dubbed "Gorgeous George" by the Italian media, he has landed on the cover of Vanity Fair.

VATICAN CITY (REUTERS) -  A new star is born in the Vatican, but maybe not in the way most people would imagine.

Only ten days ago Pope Benedict ordained four new archbishops including his personal secretary, Monsignor Georg Ganswein, at a solemn service in St. Peter's Basilica.

But now Archbishop Georg Ganswein, Pope Benedict's private secretary, who has been dubbed "Gorgeous George" by the Italian media, is also a real-life cover boy.

The prelate has landed on the cover of Vanity Fair.

The cover on the Italian edition of the magazine shows the 56-year-old archbishop smiling, his blue eyes beaming, above a headline that reads "Father Georg - It's not a sin to be beautiful."

The magazine calls Ganswein "The George Clooney of St Peter's" and says it dedicated a cover story to honour his recent promotion to the rank of archbishop and as recognition of his growing power in the Roman Catholic Church.

A spokeswoman for the magazine said Ganswein was not interviewed for the article and did not pose for the cover photo, which she said was a close-up of an existing picture.

First reactions from people on the streets of Rome were mixed.

"It's time for an ancient insitution, even a slightly prehistoric one like the Vatican, to sell themselves on different platforms," said Rome resident Andrea Polidor.

"I don't see why he should be on a magazine which shows half naked women, where usually the cover has topless women, I don't think it's right," said Floriano Papara.

"It doesn't upset me, but I would never have thought to see him in that kind of magazine," said Tiziana Piedimarchi.

Ganswein, who has been Benedict's personal secretary since the former CardinalJoseph Ratzinger was elected Roman Catholic leader in 2005, was elevated to the rank of archbishop earlier this month.

A German like the pope, he was also promoted to the job of Prefect of the Pontifical Household, a position that will significantly increase his power as the pope gets older and frailer.

As prefect, Ganswein - already one of the most recognisable and powerful figures in the papal court - will arrange all the pope's private and public audiences and his daily schedule.

And, because he will be keeping his job as chief private secretary, he will have even more power in deciding who has access to the 85-year-old pope.

Vanity Fair said the article about Ganswein was a "close up profile of a particular monsignor". The magazine goes on sale on Wednesday.