The Pope reveals confidential details of previous secret meetings with an aide to Pope Benedict XVI

Vatican City (AFP) – Pope Francis He revealed the political “maneuvers” used to influence votes during the last pope election, while denying that he plans to reform the process of future conclave, in a lengthy interview published on Tuesday.

The secret discoveries are contained in “The Caliph: My Memories”. 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 Spanish daily ABC correspondent Javier Martinez-Brucal, comes at a sensitive time for the 87-year-old Francis. for him Poor health It raised questions about how long he would remain pope, whether he would follow Benedict's lead and resign, and who might eventually replace him.

Francis revealed in the book Details previously confidential About the 2005 conclave in which Benedict was elected 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 was pope.

In 2005, Francis said, he was “used” by cardinals who wanted to prevent the election of Benedict – and then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – and that they were able to influence 40 of the 115 votes in his favour. He added that the idea was not to elect the Argentine, but rather to force a consensus candidate after Ratzinger was excluded from the race.

“They told me then that they did not want a ‘foreign’ pope,” Francis said — in other words, a non-Italian pope — explaining that the process was not so much about the Holy Spirit inspiring the cardinals as it was about the Holy Spirit inspiring the cardinals. It was a cold and difficult political calculation.

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Francis said he put an end to the maneuvers by declaring that he would not accept becoming pope, after which Ratzinger was elected.

“He was the only person who could become pope at that moment,” Francis said, adding that he also voted for Ratzinger.

In 2013, after the resignation of Benedict XVI. There were also political maneuvers. Francis – who at the time was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio – said he only realized after the fact that the cardinals were rallying behind him, pestering him with questions about the church in Latin America and insinuating that he was gaining support.

He said it finally occurred to him that he might become pope when Spanish Cardinal Santos Abril y Castillo pursued him after lunch on March 13, before what would become the final ballot.

The Spanish cardinal had what was clearly a health-related question about Bergoglio's ability to withstand the physical rigors of the papacy, after opponents apparently raised his health as a potential obstacle to his election.

“Your Eminence, is it true that you are missing a lung?” Recounting what April said, Francis replied that part of his lung had been removed after he had a respiratory infection. After assuring the cardinal that the operation had taken place more than 50 years ago, April recalled muttering: “What a last-minute maneuver…”

In the interview, Francis denied rumors that he was planning any reform of the conclave's rules for future papal elections.

Conservative media speculated, without any attribution, that Francis was amending protocols to limit pre-conclave discussions about the church's needs to cardinals under 80. Only these cardinals – most of whom were appointed by Francis – are able to vote for the next pope, but older colleagues are currently allowed to participate in previous debates.

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While Francis denied any such reform, he did reveal that he was reviewing the protocol for papal funerals. Francis said Benedict

He said he wanted to make sure popes were “buried like any son of the Church” in a dignified, but not excessive, way.

In the book, Francis also settles some scores with Benedict's longtime secretary, Archbishop Georg Gainswein, who first fired him and then Exile from the Vatican After what he described as a series of unwise decisions that “made life difficult for me.”

It is widely believed that Gainswein helped stoke anti-Francis opposition during Benedict's decade-long retirement, allowing Benedict to be exploited by conservatives nostalgic for his doctrinal papacy. He was behind some of the biggest hiccups in the unusual cohabitation of two popes.

Francis reveals details about one of them A famous incident in 2020where Cardinal Robert Sarah, the conservative former Vatican liturgy, co-authored a book with Benedict XVI stressing the need for a celibate priesthood.

The book was published at the moment when Francis was considering calls to relax celibacy requirements and allow married priests in order to address a shortage of clergy in the Amazon region. The matter caused a stir because Benedict

Francis places the blame squarely on Gainswein for the affair, insisting that Sarah was a “good man” and may have been “manipulated by separatist groups.” Francis said he felt compelled to sideline Gaenswein after the altercation.

“I have had to ask Benedict’s secretary to take a voluntary leave of absence, while retaining the title of prefect of the papal household and the salary,” Francis said.

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Gainswein later Sealing his fate With Francis when he published his memoir Nothing But the Truth in the days following Benedict XVI's death on December 31, 2022, which was highly critical of Francis.

“It pained me that they used Benedict. The book was published on the day of his burial, and I felt it was a lack of nobility and humanity,” Francis said.

Francis insisted that Benedict had always deferred, defended and supported him and was not behind any of the conservatives' attacks or maneuvers to undermine his authority.

He denied that his sermon was dry During Benedict's funeralcriticized by conservatives for lacking praise, was a sign of anything other than liturgical protocol.

“You don't give eulogies in sermons,” he said.

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