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St. Gallen group confirms prelates' meetings, but denies cabal to elect new Pope

September 30, 2015

The Swiss diocese of St. Gallen has confirmed that a group of prelates met there to discuss the future of the Church, but denied reports that the meetings formed the basis for a campaign to elect Pope Francis.

After retired Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels spoke of the St. Gallen group as a “mafia club,” and authors of his biography said that the group paved the way for the election of Pope Francis, some media reports alleged that the group had conspired to oust Pope Benedict XVI and replace him with the Argentine Cardinal Bergoglio.

The diocese noted that the prelates’ group “met on a regular basis in St. Gallen for the sake of a friendly exchange.” But the diocesan statement notes that the group stopped meeting in 2006—long before the resignation of Pope Benedict and the conclave that elected Pope Francis in 2013.

The St. Gallen group was founded by Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, who died in 2012, and Bishop Ivo Fürer of St. Gallen, who retired in 2005. Neither prelate had a role in the 2013 conclave.

The diocesan statement does say that the members of the group were pleased by the election of Pope Francis. The conclave’s choice “corresponded to the goals of the group in St. Gallen,” the diocese said, and that Bishop Fürer “never hid his joy about the election of the Argentine.”


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