A conspiracy to elect Pope Francis? Don’t believe it.

Catholic Culture

By Phil Lawler Sep 28, 2015

Did a powerful group of cardinals conspire to unseat Pope Benedict XVI and elect Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio—Pope Francis—in his place? That sensational claim has been circulating in conservative Catholic internet sites. But the available facts don’t support the sensational headlines.

Edward Pentin, a respected Vatican journalist, broke the story to the English-speaking world with his report for the National Catholic Register. He reported—accurately—that a new biography of Belgium’s retired Cardinal Godfried Danneels has disclosed that the existence of a group of prelates who were committed to “progressive” causes, and unhappy with the influence exerted in the Vatican by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

The members of the St. Gallen group reportedly included the late Cardinal Carlo Martini of Milan of Milan, the veteran Vatican insider Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, English Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, and the German Cardinals Karl Lehmann and Walter Kasper, along with Cardinal Danneels. At the launch of the book, Cardinal Danneels referred to this group—known as the St. Gallen group, after the location where they had met—as a “mafia club.”

Now it may not be edifying to learn that cardinals were plotting to influence Vatican policy, and knowledgeable readers, glancing down that list of names, might well worry about their influence. But it does not rise to the level of conspiracy if a group of prelates meet to discuss Church affairs.

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