Pope exposes confidential details of past conclaves


Francis said he put an end to the maneuvering by announcing that he wouldn’t accept being pope, after which Ratzinger was elected…reports Asian Lite News

Pope Francis has exposed the political “maneuvers” used to sway votes during the two most recent elections of popes, while denying he is planning to reform the process for future conclaves, in a book-length interview published Tuesday.

The confidential revelations are contained in “The Successor: My Memories of Benedict XVI,” in which the Argentine pope reflects on his relationship with the late German pope and settles some scores with Benedict’s longtime aide.

The book, written as a conversation with the correspondent for Spain’s ABC daily, Javier Martínez-Brocal, comes at a delicate time for the 87-year-old Francis. His frail health has raised questions about how much longer he will remain pope, whether he might follow in Benedict’s footsteps and resign, and who might eventually replace him.

In the book, Francis revealed previously confidential details about the 2005 conclave that elected Benedict pope and the 2013 ballot in which he himself was elected, saying he was allowed to deviate from the cardinals’ oath of secrecy because he is pope.

In 2005, Francis said, he was “used” by cardinals who wanted to block the election of Benedict — then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — and that they managed to sway 40 out of 115 votes his way. The idea wasn’t to elect the Argentine but rather to force a compromise candidate after knocking Ratzinger out of the running, he said.

“They told me afterward that they didn’t want a ‘foreign’ pope,” — in other words, a non-Italian one — Francis said, making clear that the process wasn’t so much about the Holy Spirit inspiring cardinals as it was a cold, hard political calculus.

Francis said he put an end to the maneuvering by announcing that he wouldn’t accept being pope, after which Ratzinger was elected.

“He was the only one who could be pope in that moment,” Francis said, adding that he, too, voted for Ratzinger.

In 2013, after Benedict’s resignation, there was also political maneuvering involved. Francis — who at the time was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio — said he only realized after the fact that cardinals were coalescing behind him, pestering him with questions about the church in Latin America and dropping hints that he was gaining support.

He said it finally dawned on him that he might be pope when Spanish Cardinal Santos Abril y Castelló came running after him after lunch on March 13, just before what would become the final ballot.

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