things have recently happened which concern the next papal
Conclave. At first glance they appear to be of little importance
but we should think otherwise.
first happening is the publication of the book Le Successeur
(Oct. 1995) by Giancarlo Zizola on the coming possible machinations
in the election of Pope John Paul's successor. In reading
it, one understands immediately why its author, a well-known
"vaticanist," did not deem it prudent to publish
his book in Rome. It would have been unappreciated by the
Holy See to see coming from Rome a book which considers
that Pope John Paul II, gravely ill, is at the end of his
pontificate, and which gives the names of the "papable
in this book is a report on the role of the former Secretary
of State, Card. Casaroli, in the preparation of the next
Conclave. It is not coincidental that a long program devoted
to the Cardinal aired on Italian television recently (Jan.,
1996) or that he gave several interviews to various journals
at that time. Looking ahead to the role which he could still
play at the time of the Conclave, the Cardinal has judged
it necessary to appear in a new light, washed of the stains
of the Ostpolitik. He has done this by making Paul
VI bear almost all the responsibility for it, especially
that concerning the well-known case of the great Card. Mindszenty.
might think that the leaders of the power group so often
discussed in Si Si No No are too old and no longer
have a chance of success in the next Conclave, but it isn’t
so. Earlier, it seemed that they would orient their choice
towards a South American with pastoral and curial experience
in order to have a candidate capable of rallying a large
consensus, but this candidate [Msgr. Lucas Moriera Neves
- Ed.] is “out of the race” given his health problems.
Maria Cardinal Martini
leaves Card. Martini. Zizola devotes an entire chapter to
him. Martini continues to publish books which invariably
carry his photograph on the cover; he travels all over the
world, giving conferences or preaching the “spiritual exercises.”
His agenda is a full two years ahead. He is going out of
his way to make himself known to a large part of the electors
of the Sacred College.
isn’t known if Zizola’s book was overseen by the liberal-radical
wing of Card. Silvestrini, but it is certain that Zizola
is an unconditional supporter of that wing. Si Si No
No once reported:
Silvestrini is not unaware of the power of the press.
With the nomination of Navarro-Vals he has lost control
of the official Vatican press bureau, but he continues
to hold 'informal' meetings with the journalists on the
premises of the Libreria Leoniana (owned by the Vatican)
at 16-28 Via dei Corridori. [One can encounter there not
only Silvestrini, but also Card. Pio Laghi, who drops
in regularly to meet with Msgr. Gino Belleri, director
of the Libreria and "chief" of this "parallel
press bureau"]. This personal "press bureau"
of Msgr. Silvestrini [and equally today of Laghi], whose
first-hand news is evidently much sought after, is frequented
by the most "progressist" of the "vaticanists"
such as Giancarlo Zizola…. (Nov. 15, 1985)
second event is the important article by Vincenzo Card.
Fagiolo, published in the 30 Day (Feb., 1995; Italian
edition) entitled "Resignation of the Papacy and of
the Episcopal Office." Card. Fagiolo, a noted canonist,
concludes that "lack of health and strength" is
a reason for resigning, a reason which finds "explanations
within canonical tradition and the regular practice of the
must recall Card. Fagiolo's role at the time of the concordat
between Rome and Italy which ultimately meant the de-Christianization
of Italy. Card. Fagiolo not only contributed to the editing
of the concordat, but he also was its great defender in
the press (Il Tempo, Feb. 11, 1984; Feb. 19, 1984).
In defending the concordat, he also defended those who were
responsible for it: Casaroli and Silvestrini.
this article in 30 Days? Is this another of his strategies
of defense? Does Fagiolo wish to present arguments in favor
of the group which wants to prepare the next Conclave? To
know a person, one must also know his friends. Let it be
known that Card. Fagiolo is a close companion of Silvestrini
and Virgilio Card. Noe, and without any doubt, he is the
great defender of the work of Msgr. Bugnini, the principal
demolisher of liturgical tradition.
third happening is the Apostolic Constitution Universi
Dominici Gregis (Feb., 22,1996). It seems to contain
nothing new which could concern the proceedings of the Conclave.
That was the opinion of the journalists who did nothing
more than report what His Excellency Msgr. Jorge Maria Mejia
had told them during the press conference at which the document
as Secretary of the Sacred College, and thus of the next
Conclave, Mejia was certainly the best informed person on
all that could concern the election of the next pope. He
those who wish to seek out, or expect to find, substantial
changes in the current compilation of the norms would be
disappointed…. What are the changes...? They are, fundamentally,
three small ones...(Osservatore Romano, Feb 24, 1996).
specified them thusly: I) The Conclave fathers would reside
in the newly prepared Domus Sanctae Marthae residence,
not in the Apostolic Palace as in the past; 2) two traditional
methods of election, by acclamation and by compromise, are
now abolished; 3) special security measures have been mandated
to insure the isolation and secrecy of the conclave proceedings.
that is not all that the text of the Pope's constitution
says, and Mejia contradicts (by omission) what the Pope
have esteemed it a duty to revise the very form of the
really is an important change, the only substantial innovation
in the constitution. Why did Mejia pass over it?
is the important change: If, after 30 votes (which, at four
votes per day would mean on the eighth day) no one obtains
two thirds of the votes...
Cardinal Electors shall be invited by the Camerlengo to
express their opinion on the manner of proceeding, and
the election will then proceed in accordance with what
the absolute majority of them decides. Nevertheless, there
can be no waiving of the requirement that a valid election
takes place only by an absolute majority of the votes
or else by voting only on the two names which, in the
ballot immediately preceding, have received the greatest
number of votes; and in this second case also, only an
absolute majority is required. (Universi Dominici Gregis,
Morierea Cardinal Neves
is not a small change! This is changing a
practice of more than eight centuries. The traditional two-thirds
majority rule was fixed by the constitution Licet de
Vitanda (1179) for several reasons: to have a candidate
approved of by a large consensus, and, above all, to avoid
any doubt about the election of the successor of Peter.
If in fact the election is made by majority vote (as it
will be now after 30 ballots), the new Pope could be elected
with half of the votes plus one; and if there is one invalid,
or dubious, or uncertain vote, his election will be null,
or in doubt, or uncertain. One thus runs the risk of having
two Popes and the risk of disputes which could even end
up in schism. The change brought about by the recent apostolic
constitution is then a very important one, one which could
have incalculable consequences for the future of the Church.
regards to this, Andrea Tornielli writes:
this system had been in effect 18 years ago, perhaps John
Paul II might not have been elected. It is known in fact
that at the last conclave two candidates confronted one
another, each vetoing the other's election…If the new
rules had been in effect, it would not have been necessary
to opt for a different candidate (one like Card. Wojtyla),
able to attract a greater consensus from both sides. It
would have been sufficient to wait, remaining steadfast
in the positions of the first few days, ballot after ballot.
Then, once the majority vote rule went into effect, one
of the two... would have received the necessary plurality
(Epoca, March 17, 1996). [The rival candidacies
referred to were those of Cardinals Siri and Benelli.-
THIS POINT, SI SI NO NO QUOTES THE FOLLOWING LETTER
TO THE EDITOR FROM AN ARGENTINEAN PRIEST:
am an Argentinean priest who very much enjoys reading
your anti-modernist periodical. Occasionally you have
spoken about the Church here in Argentina. Now I realize
that we are not the center of the world, but I would like
to bring home to you a few facts concerning the Argentinean
clergy (sometimes considered as being conservative), especially
now that recently it seems to have a certain role to play
at Rome itself, as for example in matters concerning the
nomination of bishops.
exists in Argentina a group of liberal-radical bishops
called the group of San Isidro [a diocese on the periphery
of Buenos Aires from which they originated]. The group
was strengthened and pushed to the fore from the time
of Pio Laghi's arrival in Argentina as nuncio and
it is now supported by Mejia.
bishops are: Msgr. Carlos Galan, formerly auxiliary of
Bishop Laguna at Moron, then Archbishop of La Plata; Msgr.
Alberto Dovato, Bishop of Goya (now deceased); Msgr. Juan
Rubon Martinez, Bishop of Reconquista; Msgr. Emilio Bianchi
di Carcano, Bishop of Azul; Msgr. Alcides Jorge Casaretto,
Bishop of San Isidro; Msgr. Fernando Maria Bargallo, Bishop
of these bishops were nominated by Nuncio Pio Laghi. Among
those, Bianchi di Carcano and Laguna had seen their candidacies
for the episcopacy rejected by His Excellency Msgr. Lino
Zanini, the nuncio in Argentina prior to Laghi.
Laghi's behavior in these nominations was such that it
caused some Argentinean priests to write reports about
it to the Secretary of State.
should have been hoped, with the departure of Laghi, that
the group of San Isidro would gradually lose its prestige.
(In fact, for fourteen years there has not been an episcopal
nomination coming out of that group.) However, with the
nomination of Mejia as Secretary of the Congregation of
Bishops, the group has taken new life. Soon after the
arrival of Mejia in Rome, Pargallo was named a bishop,
and it is said that preparations are underway for two
other promotions from the group, specifically those of
Carlos Fronzini, Vicar General of San Isidro, and Alijandro
Bunge, close friend and associate of Mejia.
at Rome few know who Msgr. Mejia is….To us, Msgr. Mejia
is known for his belonging to IDO-C [International Center
for Documentation and Religious Information], an organization
which defines itself as...:
international group independent of any religious institution
whatsoever, open to all, and the members of which are
selected democratically. The group concerns itself with
collection and distribution of documentation on the
structural and theological effects of the continuing
application of the decrees and of the spirit of Vatican
Council II. This information is not offered at the popular
level, but rather at the level of the specialists. Among
the subscribers one finds Catholic, Protestant, and
Jewish students, as well as journals from all the different
religious confessions. The group seeks to continue the
"horizontal" communication brought to the
fore by Vatican Council II, by putting into contact
with one another all the members of the people of God
and their opinions and ideas. To ensure this communication,
IDO-C has organized a committee of 120 theologians.
was a member of the International Executive Committee
of IDO-C and also a member of the Argentinean committee.
The review Ya (Nov. 28, 1972) issued this
Queriniana de Brescia will no longer print
the review IDO-C Internazionale of the
Center for Documentation and Religious Information founded
during the Council…, the center whose positions are
widely known to be in open disagreement with the Catholic
was also the director (1955-1977) of Criterio,
a magazine of liberal propaganda.
was also the artisan of the meeting at Assisi (1986),
which he defended, by articles in Osservatore Romano.
As a specialist in Judaism, he was Secretary for the Commission
for Religious Relations with Judaism (1977 -1986) and
it was he who organized the visit of the Pope to the synagogue
must say that, in Argentina, his nomination to the Congregation
for Bishops was perplexing to a large number of priests;
the more so because many remembered his iniquitous behavior
towards a famous priest, who was also his teacher, Fr.
Leonardo Castellani. Card. Quarrucino has encouraged reprinting
Fr. Castellani's books…. In his Catechism for Adults,
the Cardinal speaks of Mejia's unjust behavior against
him [Fr. Castellani].
is what I wanted to tell you, Father.
signed by an Argentinean priest)
are a few more bits of information on His Excellency Msgr.
Mejia. He is a licentiate in Biblical Studies at the Pontifical
Biblical Institute, that crucible of the present crisis,
well known for its contempt of the constant magisterium
of the Church. In Rome it is said that the nomination of
Mejia as Secretary of the Congregation for Bishops was due
to his old friendship with John Paul II, dating back to
the time of the Pope's studies at the Angelicum. It seems
that the "friendship" was dusted off and polished
up in order to place Mejia in a position that he coveted.
Mejia does in fact have some old friends in Rome, like Pia
Card. Laghi and his friends in the group of Brisighella
(Faenza), including Achille Card. Silvestrini, today Prefect
of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches. Mejia knew
Laghi when the latter was in Argentina, and Laghi prepared
the way for Mejia's first appointment in Rome. Thus Mejia
feels indebted to Laghi and he takes any occasion to thank
him, as for example in the review he wrote for the book,
Card. Pio Laghi: Honorary Citizen of Bethlehem, on
the occasion of the Cardinal's 70th birthday. The wildly
emotional eulogy that he made of this book is such that
it casts doubt on the sincerity of the author's assertions.
Silvestrini, and their companions certainly have the advantage
of having a friend at the Congregation for Bishops. The
Secretary of this Congregation plays a key role in the nomination
of bishops. It is he who chooses the cardinal relator for
every episcopal nomination. Who can prevent Mejia from naming
Silvestrini, Laghi, Fagiolo, Poggi, Fumo, etc. as relators
for the key posts?
the article "Human Maneuvers in Preparation for the
Next Conclave," we wrote:
the Conclave, one third of the cardinals is sufficient
to defeat a candidate not "aligned" [to the
power group] and thus to favor the election of the candidate
desired [by the group] ...(Courrier de Rome, March,
it is even easier: one third of the cardinals, by voting
as a bloc, can unleash the mechanism of the majority-vote
rule. This will happen even more easily since the new residence
of the electors in the Domus Sanctae Marthae no longer
presents the inconveniences found at the Apostolic Palace
which aggravated among the cardinals a certain haste to
reach a conclusion.
have illustrated three points of the strategy for the next
Conclave. There is probably a fourth. There are rumors that
there may soon be a consistory to create a small number
of new cardinals. There are only a few posts vacant, but
they are sufficient to reinforce an existing power group.
Among the candidates for cardinal are: Msgr. Mejia, who
aspires to succeed Card. Gantin, whose term expired a year
ago. It would be an unusual event in the Curia for the Secretary
to succeed the Prefect, but today anything is possible;
Msgr. Marchisano, who characteristically does everything
possible to obtain the cardinal's hat, benefiting from the
same Piedmontese origin as the Secretary of State; Msgr.
Dino Monduzzi who, even though suffering from Burger's disease,
won't quit his post until he makes cardinal.
these rumours are disquieting. Beyond the three events that
we have related in this article (Zizola's book, Fagiolo's
article in 30 Days, and the Apostolic Constitution
Universi Dominici Gregis), is there perhaps more
in the works?
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Kansas City, MO 64109
translated from the Italian
Fr. Du Chalard
Via Madonna degli Angeli, 14
Italia 00049 Velletri (Roma)