Saturday, July 18, 2015
Martini: Benedict XVI's resignation and the 2005 conclave conclave
Andrea Tornielli Vatican Insider July 18, 2015 The disclosures made by the Jesuit Biblicist, Fr. Silvano Fausti, Carlo Maria Martini’s confessor and spiritual guide, who passed away on 24 June, have turned the spotlight back onto the role played by the formed Archbishop of Milan in the 2005 Conclave that elected Benedict XVI Pope. In a video interview published on Italian news website Gli Stati Generali, Fausti talked about two moments. One was Ratzinger’s resignation and the last conversation with Martini on 2 June 2012 in Milan, on the occasion of the World Meeting of Families. The Jesuit cardinal, who was seriously ill with Parkinson’s (he died three months later), met Ratzinger in the archbishop’s residence in the early afternoon. During that meeting, according to Fausti’s version of events, Martini told Benedict XVI that the time had come for him to resign because the Roman Curia seemed irreformable: “it’s right now, one cannot do anything here.” Fr. Fausti is a primary source given the relationship he had with Martini. It also widely known that Ratzinger and Martini esteem each other, despite their different positions. There is no doubt that during that painful period the Holy See was going through, with the Vatileaks scandal in full swing, the Archbishop of Milan spoke frankly to Benedict XVI suggesting he resign. It is also widely known that Ratzinger had been contemplating the possibility of resigning for some time, probably since the start of his pontificate. He had experienced John Paul II’s final years first hand and had witnessed how the Pope’s illness had ended up increasing the power of his entourage. Peter Seewald’s book-length interview “Light of the World”, published in November 2010, testifies Benedict XVI’s thoughts about a potential resignation. His closest collaborators admitted that Ratzinger made his decision following his visit to Mexico and Cuba in March 2012. The Pope was completely burnt out after this intercontinental voyage and had realised that he was not going to be able to go ahead with the already scheduled visit to Brazil for World Youth Day in July 2013. The Vatileaks scandal then added to this situation and paradoxically pushed his resignation forward rather than speeding it up. Benedict XVI’s Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone, stated that he was informed about Benedict XVI’s decision to resign “in mid 2012”, so presumably in the month of June. Bishop Georg Gänswein, Prefect of the Papal Household and Ratzinger’s personal secretary said the same thing. Fr. Georg, categorically denied that the reason for the Pope’s resignation had anything to do with the Vatileaks scandal, pointing out that the announcement was made after the affair had drawn to an end, that is, once the papal butler Paolo Gabriele’s trial was over and after Benedict XVI pardoned him. Both Bertone and Gänswein had tried – in vain – to convince Ratzinger to stay in office. It was in this context that Martini spoke. It is impossible to know whether Benedict XVI spoke to Martini of his intentions during their last brief meeting in the archbishop’s residence on 2 June. It is more likely that the Jesuit cardinal spoke to him about it, as Fr. Fausti said. The disclosures Fr. Fausti made regarding the 2005 Conclave are far more complex to interpret. According to his reconstruction, Martini apparently handed his votes over to Ratzinger in order to avoid “foul play” which attempted to eliminate both in order to elect “a thoroughly obsequious member of the Curia, who didn’t make it”. According to Fausti, Ratzinger and Martini “had more votes, Martini a few more” than Ratzinger. There had apparently been a scheme to elect a Curia cardinal. “Once the ploy had been unveiled, Martini went to Ratzinger in the evening and said to him: tomorrow, you agree to become Pope with my votes… He said to him: you accept, you have been in the Curia for 30 years and you are intelligent and honest: if you manage to reform the Curia great, if not, you step down.” Given the authority of the source and his role as Martini’s confessor and spiritual guide, there is no reason to doubt that in his first and only Conclave, the Archbishop Emeritus of Milan in the end voted for Ratzinger himself and had his supporters vote for Ratzinger too. However, the bit where Martini is assigned a significant number of votes, more than the number Ratzinger received, at least initially, is both questionable and disputed. There is no doubt that in that papal election, the only organised group that had begun a persuasion campaign with the other cardinals, was the group of Ratzinger’s supporters. Various figures were working on this: Cardinal Bertone, who was Archbishop of Genoa at the time and had been the Bavarian cardinal’s right hand man at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Colombian Curia cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo; a number of Ratzinger’s students, including the Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schönborn, for example. According to the most reliable reconstructions of that Conclave, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a figure who was recognised and respected even by those with different positions, a figure who had, as Dean of the College, led the pre-Conclave phase in a very balanced and wise way, had gained a steady batch of votes right from the first evening voting session (between 30 and 40 votes some say, while others claim it was over 40). Martini’s group of supporters had mustered far fewer votes (about ten or so). The Archbishop Emeritus of Milan, who was already suffering from Parkinson’s disease (the same illness John Paul II - the Pope who had just died - had suffered from), agreed to be considered as a candidate but only as a “flag-bearer”, in order to allow his supporters to count how many there were . He made it very clear that he would not able to accept his potential election due to his state of health. So the second favourite in that Conclave, was not Martini but Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, who according to Lucio Brunelli’s account on Limes magazine thanks to the publication of a cardinal’s diary, gathered as many as 40 votes in the third voting session of the Conclave. (the second session held in the morning of the day of the election). A consistent number of votes that got Ratzinger’s supporters in a tizzy. Lunchtime was a decisive moment. When they returned to the Sistine Chapel, cardinals voted for Benedict XVI in the fourth voting session. It is not hard to imagine that, faced with the possibility of retreat in the case of an impasse which would have led to new candidates emerging on the third day of the Conclave in addition to the two main ones, Martini preferred to back a figure like Ratzinger. There are, however, other witnesses who say that during the lunch of April 19th, some cardinals, including Martini, apparently believed the day could have ended without an election. And this would have eliminated both Ratzinger (had accepted to be considered as a candidate on the condition that the election was quick and it did not split the College of Cardinals) and the second favourite, Bergoglio, from the race. This would in turn have led a third candidate to emerge from the shadows.