Conspiracy Theories Behind Pope Francis’s Election
by Barbie Latza Nadeau - Backstabbing! Secret deals! Holy grudges! Rumors are flying about how Pope Francis really got elected. Barbie Latza Nadeau reports from Rome on who’s feeling snubbed. Even before the white smoke had settled in St. Peter’s square after the election of Pope Francis on Wednesday night, rumors were already swirling around Rome about what really happened inside the Sistine Chapel during the super-secret conclave. As the mainstream press wrote profiles of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio and his journey to the papacy, Vatican experts were whispering about backstabbing and secret deals that went down under Michelangelo’s frescoed ceiling.
On Thursday morning, Italians woke to screaming headlines about betrayals and dietrologia, a popular Italian phrase for conspiracy theories about what’s really going on behind the scenes. The most popular theory as to why Bergoglio was elected was put forward by La Stampa’s esteemed Vaticanista Giacomo Galeazzi, who wrote that Italian frontrunner Angelo Scola was “betrayed by his countrymen on the first vote.” According to Galeazzi, the top Italian cardinals in the Roman Curia held “grudges” against Scola and undermined his chances of winning in the first round. Namely, according to Galeazzi, Vatican secretary of State Tarciso Bertone and the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano, were “ridiculously hostile” towards Scola, who they saw as a threat to their power. Citing an unnamed source, Galeazzi says Scola was banned because of “ancient jealousies and rivalries.”
The Vaticanista from Corriere Della Sera, Massimo Franco, instead theorized that Bergoglio’s win was a compromise to give a nod to the strength of the Latin American faithful and show that the Vatican was willing to at least try out someone from another part of the world. At the same time, the election of Bergoglio, whose father was an Italian immigrant to Argentia, pacified those who wanted either a European or Italian pope. Another front-runner, Odilo Scherer from Brazil, reportedly did not do well at all in balloting. As the Brazilian-born son of German immigrants, Franco says he was too much of a carbon copy of Benedict. And two German popes in a row would surely not sit well with Italians, whose anti-German sentiment has been underscored by the recent European financial crisis in which Italy is seen as the weak underdog to Germany’s strong economy. At the age of 76, the Francis papacy won’t last decades, so giving the job to a Latin American could be considered a “trial run” to see how it works. Franco also wrote that his sources hinted that a deal was made in which Scola would instead be given the secretariat of state portfolio, effectively giving him the task of doing the dirty work of reforming the Roman curia without the reward of a pontificate. More at The Daily Beast