One thing that that has puzzled a lot of people since the selection of Pope Francis two years ago is how a left-leaning Pope could succeed two very serious conservative Popes—John Paul II and Benedict XVI—who you would have thought had stacked the ranks of the Cardinals with clergy that would perpetuate their theological and philosophical outlook. Was Benedict hounded out of office by some kind of internal Vatican scandal perhaps? Was there some ecclesiastical version of a coup?
There’s no evidence that I’m aware of—until now. Three days ago the National Catholic Register ran a very curious article about the contents of a newly published authorized biography of retired Belgian cardinal Godfried Danneels. The Register article reports:
Further serious concerns are being raised about Cardinal Godfried Danneels, one of the papal delegates chosen to attend the upcoming Ordinary Synod on the Family, after the archbishop emeritus of Brussels confessed this week to being part of a radical “mafia” reformist group opposed to Benedict XVI. . .
At the launch of the book in Brussels this week, the cardinal said he was part of a secret club of cardinals opposed to Pope Benedict XVI.
He called it a “mafia” club that bore the name of St. Gallen. The group wanted a drastic reform of the Church, to make it “much more modern”, and for Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to head it. The group, which also comprised Cardinal Walter Kasper and the late Jesuit Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, has been documented in Austen Ivereigh’s biography of Pope Francis, The Great Reformer.
Over at The American Conservative, Rod Dreher has gone to the trouble of translating an Italian report that is even more curious:
The Italian Vaticanist Marco Tosatti writes (in Italian; I’ve modified the Google translation):
The election of Jorge Bergoglio was the result of secret meetings that cardinals and bishops, organized by Carlo Maria Martini, held for years in St. Gallen, Switzerland. This, according to Jürgen Mettepenningen et Karim Schelkens, authors of a newly published biography of the Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, who calls the group of cardinals and bishops a “Mafia club”.
Danneels according to the authors, worked for years to prepare for the election of Pope Francis, which took place in 2013. Danneels, moreover, in a video recorded during the presentation of the book in Brussels, admits that he was part of a secret club of cardinals who opposed Joseph Ratzinger. Laughing, he calls it “a Mafia club that bore the name of St. Gallen”.
The group wanted a drastic reform of the Church, much more modern and current, with Jorge Bergoglio, Pope Francis, as its head. They got what they wanted. Besides Danneels and Martini, the group according to the book were part of the Dutch bishop Adriaan Van Luyn, the German cardinal Walter Kasper and Karl Lehman, the Italian Cardinal Achille Silvestrini and British Basil Hume, among others.
I underscore that this is not some secretly sourced claim, but it’s from an advance copy of Cardinal Danneels’ official biography, approved by himself.
This is the first confirmation of rumors that had been going around for years about Benedict being thwarted by a liberal conspiracy, one that eventually forced him out. These men — Danneels, Van Luyn, Kasper, Lehman, and Hume, at least — all preside over dying churches. And they killed the Benedict papacy.
This might explain a few things. . .