January 6. The year begun with the episcopal ordination of Georg Gänswein, the personal secretary of Pope Benedict XVI, along with three other important Vatican prelates.
As Prefect of the Papal Household, Fr. Gänswein would play a key role in the papal transition four weeks after, and that's why as archbishop his opinion would gain importance in the Roman Curia.
But before Pope Benedict's resignation, it was a normal period for the Vatican, and like always, the Pope met with all the ambassadors to the Holy See. He reminded them that true progress goes far beyond good economic models and also stressed the power of education to avoid war.
"Building peace means training individuals to fight corruption, criminal activity, the production and trade in narcotics, as well as abstaining from divisions and tensions which threaten to exhaust society.”
One of the first audiences of the year was the visit of the Prince of Monaco, Albert II, and his wife Charlenne.
It also marked the first state meeting in which Georg Gänswein performed the duties of Prefect of the Papal Household.
But in political terms, the most important visit of the month was from the General Secretary of Vietnam's Communist Party.
The meeting took place in the middle of negotiations between the Vatican and Vietnam to set up full diplomatic relations. A main sticking point is that, Christians are often harassed in the Asian country.
This scene took place by the end of January and perhaps it was an omen of the storm the Vatican would face in February. Pope Benedict released two doves to celebrate peace and a seagull attacked them. One of the most delicate months in the history of the Catholic Church was about to begin...