NEWS:  September 26, 2006

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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães

A SELF-ELECTED POPE?  – The Italian Bulletin Adista revealed disclosures of an anonymous Brazilian Cardinal to a journalist on how Ratzinger’s election took place in April 2005. It is a very interesting piece of information that, if true, reveals unknown facets of the present day Pontiff. The Cardinal’s revelations were made to Gerson Camarotti, journalist from O Globo, one of Brazil’s largest newspapers, which published them in its December 24, 2005 issue. To date the report has not been denied, as far as I know.

Four Brazilian Cardinals were present at the Conclave that elected Benedict XVI: Eusebio Sheid is considered from the right, close to Opus Dei; José Freire Falcão and Geraldo Majella are considered centrists, and Claudio Hummes, from the left. Supposing the report is true, I believe the most probable source for the information is Card. Hummes.

According to Adista (January 14, 2006), far from being the movement of the Holy Ghost, the last election was the fruit of a “strong campaign” directed behind the scenes by Ratzinger with the help of important Cardinals from the Roman Curia. According to the Brazilian source, it was Ratzinger himself who opened the way to his own candidacy, by sending the message to the College of Cardinals that he had agreed to be elected and initiating “a great behind-the-scenes campaign to become Benedict XVI.”

Cardinal Ratzinger

Was Card. Ratzinger chosen by the Holy Ghost or by himself?
Again, according to that same source, Ratzinger gave “the green light” to some Cardinals, among them Christoph Schonborn of Vienna who worked with the European bloc of Prelates, and Colombian Lopez Trujillo and Chilean Medina Estevez who worked with the Latin Americans. “When we arrived in Rome,” reports the Brazilian Cardinal, “there was doubt and uncertainty. Trujillo and Medina organized meetings and dinners. In those conversations, they clearly stated that they had consulted with Ratzinger and could guarantee that the German Cardinal had agreed to become Pope, opening the way for the campaign.” Ratzinger did not appear at those encounters.

To favor Ratzinger, Medina and Trujillo stressed certain points in his favor, such as that he was a great theologian, the most faithful disciple of John Paul II, and already familiar with the Curia. He was, therefore better prepared than anyone else to lead a “Wojtylism without Wojtyla.” And finally, that after Wojtyla’s long pontificate, it would be better to choose an older Pope, a transition Pontiff. They also said that Ratzinger had agreed to reform the Curia with a more extensive decentralization.

The Brazilian source confirmed the vote counts that had been published first by Limes magazine (September 2005). Ratzinger was elected with 84 ballots of 115, next to the 26 cast for Card. Bergoglio of Buenos Aires. In the first vote, Ratzinger got 47 ballots, Bergoglio, 10, and Carlo Maria Martini, 9. In the second, Ratzinger jumped to 65 while Bergoglio received 35. In the third, the German got 72 ballots, and the Argentine, 40. Finally in the fourth, Ratzinger passed the necessary 77 with 84 ballots.

It is quite significant, if this report is true, that at the end of his speech of December 22, 2005 to the Roman Curia, Benedict XVI stated that he was surprised by his election. Indeed, he affirmed: “Lastly, should I perhaps recall once again that April 19 of this year when, to my great surprise, the College of Cardinals elected me as the Successor of Pope John Paul II, as a Successor of St Peter on the chair of the Bishop of Rome? Such an office was far beyond anything I could ever have imagined as my vocation. It was, therefore, only with a great act of trust in God that I was able to say - in obedience - my ‘yes’ to this choice.”

What was actually the role of the Holy Ghost in this election? And just how seriously does Pope Ratzinger take the Second Commandment: ‘Thou shall not take the name of the Lord Thy God in vain’ when he stated that it was God Who chose him at the election, when the behind-the-scenes manager seems to have been none other than Ratzinger himself?


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