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Italian newspaper story claims report of conspiracy against Pope

Catholic World News - February 10, 2012

A sensational Italian newspaper story, hinting at a conspiracy against the life of Pope Benedict XVI, has raised new questions about conflicts within the Vatican Secretariat of State.

Il Fatto Quotidiano published a report that during a trip to China last November, Cardinal Paolo Romeo predict that Pope Benedict would die “within 12 months.” The story went on to say that the Pope was working to ensure the election of Cardinal Angelo Scola as his successor.

Cardinal Romeo denied making any prediction about an attempt on the Pope’s life. He said that the story, allegedly based on a report of his talk to an audience in China, was “surreal” and completely misrepresented his message. Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, said the story was “so incredible we cannot comment on it.”

Leading Vatican-watcher Andrea Tornielli pointed out that some aspects of the story in Il Fatto Quotidiano were simply incoherent, and others could be easily explained. (For instance, Cardinal Romeo might have alluded to the possibility that Pope Benedict, who is advanced in years, could die rather suddenly.) Tornielli noted that the newspaper story was based on a confidential document that was received by the Secretariat of State at the end of December, and provoked “a few laughs” but no further response.

What is interesting about the story, Tornielli added, is that another confidential report has been leaked from the Secretariat of State. The recent spate of leaks, he said, is evidence of “a clear struggle inside the Vatican” that endangers the standing of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

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