Note: For a more recent summary of the Allegations contained in Dr. Ivereigh’s Book, click here.
Rome, Dec. 4, 2014: The remarkable and stunning revelations by Dr. Austen Ivereigh in his new book, The Great Reformer: the Making of a Radical Pope, have shown their importance in recent days by the sheer number of news articles which have appeared, framing the news of the book on the basis of the story regarding “Team Bergoglio”, the name Dr. Ivereigh gives to the group of 4-6 Cardinals of the Roman Church who, in the days prior to the opening of the Conclave on March 6, 2013, organized an electoral campaign to urge the candidacy of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Cardinal-Archbishop of Buenas Aires, Argentina.
While the story did not get traction, outside of the UK, until it was covered by the noted Vaticanista, Marco Tosatti of La Stampa, in Italy, once he did, it broke in numerous news outlets the world over, both in Spain, Portugal, Brazil and the United States. Soon Ivereigh was taking interview requests from as far away as Peru. And since it has, he has given numerous talks on his book.
However, what most do not know, is that within hours of Tosatti’s published comments, the Vatican was moving behind the scenes to quash the story. For the Italian blog, il Sismografo, which published Fr. Frederico Lombardi’s carefully worded denial of the allegations, is, unbeknownst to many, run by Fr. Lombard’s colleagues at Radio Vaticana.
The nature of the denial issued by Il Sismografo indicates that great fear and trepidation is had in circles much higher up at the Vatican regarding the allegations. This can be seen from the fact that the denial was not issued through an official source, that the publishers of the denial were colleagues of Lombardi hiding behind the anonymity of a blog, which is widely read by journalists. Neither of which could be done without direct knowledge of Cardinal Parolin, the Secretary of State of the Vatican.
As is now, nearly universally known, it was John Bingham of the Telegraph, in the UK, who first broke the story and used the ascription “a discreet, but highly organised, campaign” to describe the work of “Team Bergoglio“. In his story, he quotes Dr. Ivereigh saying of the Team’s work that it was an “organised pre-conclave effort to get Bergoglio elected“. After the publication of his story in the Sunday, Nov. 23 edition of the Telegraph, Dr. Ivereigh was interviewed on Premier Christian Radio about his book and did not discount Bingham’s characterization of the story, but did show extreme unease as he dodged the question as to its nature.
As this blog, From Rome, has speculated, the reason for the great trepidation and swift denials of Dr. Ivereigh’s narrative of events, both by the spokeswoman for Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor of Westminster, England, and now by Fr. Frederico Lombardi, the head of the Vatican Press Office, is most likely that the papal law for elections of the Roman Pontiff expressly forbids under pain of automatic excommunication, any type of campaigning which obliges in any manner the elector to vote or not vote for a specific candidate or candidates.
As of yesterday, however, the scrubbing of the story is underway: with Google Books removing from online viewing the pages regarding the electoral campaign.
This blog, From Rome has published 2 articles on the canvassing campaign and another on the history of reports about the stories on “Team Bergoglio”. We have characterizing the lobbying effort from the beginning as canvassing, on the basis of the moral quality of the work done: for to canvass for votes means, in English, ‘to urge to an elector the worthiness of a candidate and to ask or inquire by words or signs whether the elector can be counted upon to vote for the candidate who has been urged.’
Dr. Austen Ivereigh, himself, uses the word, “canvassing” in The Great Reformer, when he writes (on-line edition, not paginated):
The Spanish cardinal, Santos Abril y Castello, archpriest of St. Mary Major in Rome and a former nuncio in Latin America was vigorous in canvassing on Bergoglio’s behalf among the Iberian bloc.
That the lobbying campaign was an effort at canvassing is confirmed by the words of one American Cardinal, who in the summer of 2013, in an expression of dismay about the course the pontificate of Cardinal Bergoglio was taking, quipped in public that, “We didn’t get the goods which we were sold!“. While this phrase is not, as some have claimed on the Net, certainly indicative of a sale of votes, it is indicative of an organized effort to solicit votes.
Yet, such an asking or solicitation is expressly forbidden by paragraph 81 of Universi Dominici, which is as wide in the activities which it forbids as it is with the manner of obligation assumed. While it seems incredible to some, very knowledgeable in the affairs of previous conclaves, that such is forbidden, the fact remains that in the conclave of 2013, if just 4 or 6 Cardinals were involved, the small marginal victory of Cardinal Bergoglio in the final vote of 78 in favor (+2 votes more than the 66% required) would be put in doubt on account of the terms of Canon 171, which nullifies all ecclesiastical elections wherein the votes accrued for victory are only obtained with the counting of votes of excommunicated electors.
That “Team Bergoglio” knew beforehand of the risks involved seems indicated by the fact that it was Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Conner, who was not eligible to vote in the Conclave, who was their leader; because by participating in a canvassing campaign, if he were to run afoul of the papal law against such, the loss of his vote would not risk the effects of Canon 171 § 2, the invalidation of the election. This seems further indicated by the fact that the denials issued by the Cardinals have regarded the consent of Cardinal Bergoglio (a most untoward allegation, as far as the ethics of the Sacred College go) and the participation of Cardinals, but not other persons: denials which seek to undermine an allegation regarding a conspiracy and the invalidity of the election, rather than the canvassing of votes per se. Indeed, what apologists, who have appeared on the Net in favor of “Team Bergoglio”, have attempted to stress is only that what was done was no different than what was done in the conclaves in the past.
That the Cardinals named by Dr. Ivereigh did participate in a lobbying campaign seems confirmed by a report by the Wall Street Journal, by Stacy Meichtry and Alessandra Galloni, entitled, Fifteen Days in Rome: How the Pope Was Picked:The inside story: From the Red Room where Bergoglio’s name was first dropped to a faithful night on Rome’s Piazza Navona, which was published on Aug. 6, 2013.
Though, until today, no one has publicly commented on the novelty of Pope John Paul’s law, Universi Dominici Gregis, which puts such a harsh penalty on what seemingly would be the natural course of events in an election conducted by human prudence. Indeed, the whole tenor of the current papal law on the election of the Roman Pontiff stresses that it should be conducted only in a religious manner, one free from all such political gamesmanship. And this is the chief point which the allegations seem in trepidation aimed at affirming.
For a time-line of reports, including our own coverage, click here.