Cardinal Godfried Danneels was a part of Team Bergoglio, a group of cardinals that got the Argentine elected as pope in 2013 : a new biography about pope Francis claims. — “If that is true, the election might be invalid,” says Vatican expert Tom Zwaenepoel.
“If it’s a short conclave, Bergoglio will be elected pope. You can be sure of that.” Those words were whispered by the British cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor just before the start of the 2013 conclave. He was talking to Austin Ivereigh, his spokesman at that time. Those words are now repeated in The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope, a recently published biography about pope Francis written by that same Austin Ivereigh. The author of the book claims that those words prove the existence of Team Bergoglio, a group of five cardinals who would have canvassed for votes in favor of the Argentine. “And the Belgian cardinal Danneels was among those five cardinals,” says Vatican expert Tom Zwaenepoel. “He is mentioned seven times in the book.”
According to the book, the team not only lobbied for Bergoglio in 2013 but also in 2005. “I suppose some of it is true. But how much?” says Zwaenepoel. “Propagandizing and recruiting votes for a specific candidate are illegal and would make the election invalid. But there’s a big difference between lobbying for someone and expressing sympathy for a certain candidate in an informal talk. According to the book Bergoglio knew about the lobbying in 2013 and would even have given his permission for it. But those statements are being retracted from the newer versions of the biography. Because they aren’t true or because the Vatican pressured the author to do so? We will probably never know for sure.”
Less than two days after the book hit the shops, the Vatican already stated that the accusations were all lies. Toon Osaer, spokesman of cardinal Danneels, also doesn’t believe in a conspiracy theory. “If you see how glad Danneels was after the conclave, you can be sure that Francis was his favorite candidate. But that doesn’t mean there was some sort of a master-plan to help the Argentine to the papal seat. I can tell you with absolute certainty that the cardinal didn’t canvass for votes for Bergoglio in the days and weeks before the conclave.”
The Flemish original was published on Jan. 6, 2015, p. 10, by Nieuwsblad, a Belgian newspaper in Antwerp. — Note that Belgian copyright law extends to this English translation (done for the From Rome blog), neither of which can be reproduced for commercial ends. — Michaël Temmerman is a staff reporter for the Nieuwsblad.