(March 8, 2017 – Steven O’Reilly) Last week, Antonio Socci reported that a group of powerful, liberal cardinals, who had supported Bergoglio’s election to the papacy, now would like the pope to resign (see here). Socci’s reporting indicated that the cardinals do not think it likely that Pope Francis would do so. Indeed, it seems sufficiently clear that the Pope’s disposition is such that he would do no such thing, even if it means running the Barque of Peter aground. Reports suggest that Pope Francis recognizes the path he has chosen is likely to divide the Church, yet this had not dissuaded him from his present course.
I suspect the leak to Socci suggests two things. First, there is obvious alarm within the Sacred College at the course of the current pontificate, which is leading the Church toward schism. The timing of the leak appears to be prompted by expectations that the formal correction is imminent, and that something must be done before this happens. The cardinals appear to have two goals: (1) to clearly telegraph to Francis that he will have less support than he might have hoped for in the Sacred College when the public correction occurs, and by this, to push him towards an abdication; and (2) to torpedo a possible candidate in the next conclave, in the event of the Pope’s resignation.
Regarding the second point, it is interesting to note that Cardinal Parolin-Vatican secretary of state- was named as the preferred candidate of the ‘rebellious’ cardinals, should Francis resign. I wonder though. Did they really hope to aid Parolin’s candidacy by naming him in such leaks, or more likely-it seems to me – to harm his candidacy? I think the latter. Word of this ‘title’- that he is the preferred candidate of the ‘rebellious’ cardinals- could not have been welcomed by Cardinal Parolin. The news could neither endear him to the pope he currently serves, nor to the cardinal electors who will choose this pope’s successor- and who already know Bergoglio was the desired candidate of the St. Gallen cabal. As is said: ‘he who goes into a conclave pope, comes out a cardinal.’ Therefore, it seems that the high stake maneuverings for the papacy have begun in earnest. Cardinals smell the blood in the water.