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2005 WikiLeaks cable: Ratzinger ‘lacks enough support’ to become Pope

September 06, 2011

In the latest massive release of Wikileaks documents, one diplomatic cable from an American analyst demonstrates that the documents are not always based on accurate intelligence.

One day before Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pontiff, the US embassy at the Vatican downplayed the possibility of his election, according to an unclassified diplomatic cable recently publicized by WikiLeaks.

“Despite a week of media speculation suggesting that German Cardinal and close John Paul II collaborator Joseph Ratzinger was moving close to a majority of votes, it appears that he lacks enough support to achieve the required two-thirds, given strong opposition from factions that see Ratzinger as too rigid and jealous of Rome's prerogatives,” the cable stated.

“Some of these forces appear to be uniting around retired Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, as a standard-bearer for the initial votes that will test the strength of the differing groups, though he is not expected to be a viable candidate,” the cable continued. “Based on these initial showings, the cardinals in subsequent votes are expected to shift to other candidates who reflect the Ratzinger or Martini views, but who offer better hope of garnering support from other groups. Italian Cardinals Ruini or Scola, and Argentinian Cardinal Bergolio would be suitable to the Ratzinger camp, while Milan's Archbishop Cardinal Tettamanzi or Brazilian Cardinal Hummes could pull the support of the anti-Ratzinger groups.”

The cable also praised Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, then prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, as “a good friend of the United States,” saying:

At 74 years old, he is also just the right age. Castrillon Hoyos is a realist and a good friend of the United States, who has expressed strong support for U.S. efforts to combat terrorism. Combining firm and traditional theology with modern communication methods, he has used his position at the Congregation for Clergy to involve tens of thousands of priest worldwide in Internet videoconferences on themes ranging from bioethics to Church/State relations. Castrillon Hoyos may be the perfect candidate for those hoping for a Hispanic pope who knows his way around the Roman Curia.

“Predicting who will emerge from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica in the hour after the white smoke appears from the Sistine Chapel roof is impossible to predict, given the absence of a clear consensus candidate, the divergent regional priorities of the cardinal electors, and differing views on church leadership and pastoral style,” the cable cautioned.

Just hours later, Cardinal Ratzinger would appear on the balcony, having been elected promptly as the "clear consensus candidate."


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  • Posted by: hartwood01 - Sep. 06, 2011 11:16 PM ET USA

    Yes, it can be difficult to predict the actions of the Holy Spirit.

  • Posted by: voxfem - Sep. 06, 2011 8:41 PM ET USA

    Or maybe it is the work of the Holy Spirit who does not abide by political wisdom but is the Wisdom of God.