What about the Benedict and “NSA official” story?

January 7, 2023 (Steven O’Reilly) – [Updated 1/9/2023] A story has been making the rounds on various Catholic podcasts [1] over the last couple of day about a “US official” who — right after the election of Pope Benedict XVI — supposedly “bragged” about how Benedict “would soon be forced” to resign. These podcasts are based on a LifeSiteNews article by Maike Hickson, entitled Italian general: US official bragged Benedict would be ‘forced’ to resign weeks after 2005 election.  The first version of the story that I saw was one by Gloria.TV (see Italian General Claims: NSA Forced Benedict To Resign).

The LifeSiteNews article reports on the blog of Piero Laporta, a former Italian brigadier general, who follows and reports on events in the Catholic Church. From what can be gathered, he has had other articles appear on the site of the well-respected “vaticanista” (i.e. a reporter on the Vatican) named Marco TossattiBelow, I’d like to run through the LifesiteNews article, and the original source info and provide my evaluation and initial take on the Laporta’s blog article. I’d like to dissect what is said, and by whom, allegedly.

Briefly, I believe folks should not grant any credibility to this story at the moment, certainly not based on what has so far been provided. There are a few things we’ll look at.

Sant’Egidio Reference

This news story begins with Laporta’s blog post on January 3, entitled Santegidio “coccodrilla” S.S. Benedetto XVI, Incredibile, the sense of title may be translated as, “Sant’Egidio cries “crocodile tears” for the His Holiness Benedict XVI. Incredible.”  Laporta begins his article saying:

“I shudder while a capataz of Santegidio cries “crocodile tears” for H.H. Benedict XVI of venerable memory, in front of a RAI microphone. Memories run, chase each other, rush as that honeyed voice tries to slip the road that leads to heaven H.H. Benedict XVI of venerable memory.”

Now, this is an interesting reference to the Community of Sant’Egidio.  Here, Laporta is referring to the founder of the very influential Community of Sant’Egidio, named Andrea Riccardi.  The astute readers of Roma Locuta Est may recall our article on the possible Sant’Egidio connection to the pre-conclave machinations in 2013 by Cardinal Bergoglio and the St. Gallen mafia. For one, Roma Locuta Est believes it is probable that Andrea Riccardi is, in fact, the “influential Italian gentleman” who visited ex-Cardinal McCarrick at the North American College in early March 2013 just before the conclave, and asked him to ‘talk up Bergoglio’ (see The “Influential Italian Gentleman”: A Sant’Egidio Connection?).  Roma Locuta Est has a whole series of articles on the “influential Iatlian gentleman”, his importance, his possible identity, possible links to John Podesta (see Six Degrees of the “Influential Italian Gentleman”?), and other strange happenings at the 2013 conclave (see The Conclave Chronicles).

So, reading the opening Laporta’s blog, I was quite interested to see what he might say about Riccardi.  Unfortunately, that is all we get, i.e., the comment regarding his “crocodile tears” before a microphone. Still, it does seems Laporta might share some of my questions and concerns about the role possibly played by Riccardi before the 2013 conclave. Possibly, Laporta might have questions about Riccardi’s role before the 2005 conclave. This too is warranted, as it is known Riccardi campaigned for a particular cardinal for pope prior to the conclave in 2005 (see here). But, unfortunately, Laporta doesn’t explain his oblique reference to Riccardi.

NSA official Reference

After the brief reference to Sant’Egidio, Laport launches into his ‘revelation’ about an NSA official referenced at the outset of this article.  Laporta writes (emphasis added):

That voice brings me back to a vast Roman circle, still industrious, to a prominent emissary of the US government, with his hands in the dough in finance (where he still is) and in Italian politics, a character of the upper floors of the National Security Agency, who was boasting of the resignation to which H.H. Benedict XVI of venerable memory would soon be forced, as the first weeks of his pontificate passed. He did it with ease and arrogance from which the design leaked out even above his very powerful organization.

So, Laporta says listening to the voice of Riccardi and his “crocodile tears” for Benedict “brings him back” to a “a vast Roman circle” (more on that in a bit), and to a “prominent emissary of the US government, with his hands in the dough in finance (where he still is) and in Italian politics.”  This emissary is thus described as a man of “finance”, and also involved in Italian politics, but he is also at the same time said to be from the “upper floors of the National Security Agency.” Thus, he is a very high level NSA official per Laporta.  According to Laporta’s account, this NSA official, just after the election of Benedict XVI, “bloated” that Benedict “would soon be forced” to resign.

Reading back through this text, it does not appear absolutely clear that Laporta is referencing something he heard directly, heard second hand, or just read about. Assuming that Laporta means to say he heard this directly, there are some obvious questions.

Ms. Hickson cites another Italian writer, Maurzio Blondet, who reportedly  said, ‘it was wise that Laporta did “not disclose” the U.S. official’s name.’  To me, this is nonsense. Why not disclose it from Laporta’s perspective? If this supposed NSA official spoke so openly about Benedict being forced to resign, and given he is/was a high level official, the obviousl question is, why does Laporta not reveal his name? The author of the GloriaTV article on Laporta makes the same point that I do here.  There can be no real reason why Laporta cannot reveal the name.  Other related facts are important as well. Where and when precisely did this conversation occur?  Who else witnessed it, or who else can confirm Laporta’s account?  Those are just some questions for starters!

Also, Laporta’s description of the man’s position needs some additional detail to evaluate his story. As described, he appears to be a very high-level NSA official.  But…he’s involved in Italian finances and Italian politics in some way?  Just seems odd to me, even a bit sketchy.  He sounds like an improbable chimera of an official.  Perhaps something got garbled here by Laporta, or perhaps he’s intentionally disguising the identity of this original “source,”  perhaps it was a political appointee in the White House.  Who knows…that is speculation. The point is, Laporta needs to provide much, much more info.  These questions, and the details above are all needed to evaluate whether this “official” – if he does exist – is who Laporta believed him to be, etc.  As of now…a strict interpretation of Laporta’s description of the “officials” makes him sound like an improbable figure.

Another big question that Laporta should answer is the following.  If Laporta heard this information — which the aforementioned Catholic pundits are calling a “bombshell” — soon after the 2005 conclave, why has Laporta waited all this time till now, nearly 18 years later, and nearly 10 years after Benedict’s resignation, to reveal it?  Doesn’t really make sense to me.  Surely, like all of us, Laporta was aware of reports of the St. Gallen mafia opposing Ratzinger’s papal candidacy and wanting him to resign after he was elected, and even various claims of outside governments influencing the conclave, etc.  Laporta’s information, provided he has much more detail, might have been relevant to that discussion.

Surely, Laporta was undoubtedly aware of the speculations, conjecture, rumors about Benedict’s motives for resigning. Why did he not report this information then, when it might have been more actionable?  Certainly, Laporta had the means to get his message out.  He’s a former brigadier general with good contacts. He had his own blog to disseminate this information. He has known Marco Tosatti.  Why has he only come forward now with this information now???   I am not suggesting he doesn’t have good answers for all these questions.  I am suggesting, we need to hear them to judge the credibility of his account.

Evaluating the Implied Central Claim

So, this supposed NSA “official” said Benedict would be forced out “soon” after his election. Well, this did not pan out. Benedict resigned about 8 years later.  Consequently, in this respect, the supposed “NSA official” was wrong.  Story over.

Does this anecdote, if true, prove the government plotted against Benedict as early as 2005?  No.  While I do not put it past the Obama/Biden administrations to have engaged in such activity.  I do believe the Obama/Administration’s role should be looked into, as others have suggested (see Open Letter to Trump). In the Henry Sire’s book, the Dictator Pope, he reveals Vatican officials certainly believed the US was monitoring cardinals around the time of the 2013 conclave, and we know of John Podesta and the “Catholic spring” emails in wikileaks, etc. This Podesta email exchange (entitled “opening for a Catholic Spring? just musing . . .“)  is dated February 10 and 11, 2012, a year before the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation.

But…there is something else odd.  LifesiteNews reports on, and links to an article penned by Laporta in which he beseeched Benedict to get involved in the Synod on the Family about seven years ago (see Laporta petitions Benedict here: We beseech You to attend the Bishops’ Synod on the family). That was time when questions were already being raised about St. Gallen mafia machinations and campaigning at the 2013 conclave, and its activities against Benedict going back to before his pontificate!  The curious thing though is, even though Laporta was aware of the NSA officials “brag” at that point per his account, why is he admitting Benedict is “pope emeritus” by calling him that title in his “Bishops’ Synod” article, rather than raising the alarm that Benedict might have been forced out with the assistance of the US government?  Did Laporta not believe his ‘source’, the NSA official, was telling the truth?  Did Laporta doubt the truth of it himself? Had Laporta concluded that even if the NSA official believed his prediction was based on actual intelligence, had Laporta concluded Benedict was not actually forced out in the final analysis – as Laporta’s use of the title “pope emeritus” seems to suggest?  In sum, Laporta’s apparent behavior based on the timeline we are reconstructing does not seem to suggest he believed his own story seven years ago.

Some are saying this story is a proof the US ousted Benedict. However, in 2005, the time of Benedict’s election and the alleged comments by the “NSA official”, the US still had a Republican president in George Bush.  Benedict XVI’s views on social issues, etc., were generally compatible with Republican sensibilities. While one might see that the Obama/Biden Administration would favor a pope less conservative than Benedict XVI, and open to their globalist agenda — there is no obvious reason the Bush Administration would seek Benedict’s ouster. Still, even crediting Laporta’s report of the “official’s” brag, and that this brag was based on intelligence, argumento, the most that might be said is the official in question was aware the US Government came into possession, possibly only passively, that some cardinals were plotting against Ratzinger/Benedict, and this official subsequently spoke out of school.  After all, in 2005, the US still had a Republican president in George Bush.  But is the official’s report really that much of a surprise?  The St. Gallen mafia group was an international group that greatly opposed Ratzinger since the 1990s, and into the 2005 conclave. We know at the 2005 conclave Cardinal Martini suggested that he’d support Ratzinger’s election, but that if Ratzinger should fail to reform the curia, he should resign (see here). It was after this conversation, the St. Gallen cardinals threw their support to Ratzinger in the conclave.

So, had an intelligence agency come to learn of these facts through whatever source or methods (1) St. Gallen’s stringent opposition to all-things Ratzinger, (2) Martini offering his “if/then” support for Ratzinger with a resignation condition, and (3) the St. Gallen group oddly supporting Ratzinger’s election even though it was deathly opposed to him; any rational person, for any intelligence agency(!), might reasonably conclude the that St. Gallen was up to no good, and that it might have something in the works to make sure the “if/then” resignation condition is triggered.

More questions.

The Roman Circle, etc.

Now, Laporta’s blog article goes on to suggest there was an even more powerful group than the St. Gallen mafia opposed to Benedict.  This he called the “Roman Circle” which he described as a “dome of demons.”

Now, in terms of dissecting the original story, this “revelation” is not something said to come from the supposed NSA official. To be clear, the commentary on these points appear to be Laporta’s own analysis and ruminations on the state of Church. I bet he is on to something with regard to a “Roman Circle.” I do think he is correct that St. Gallen mafia, although it played a significant role in things, is a smaller fish compared to a “Roman Circle.”

Laporta doesn’t go into what or who the “Roman Circle” is precisely, which is unfortunate.  Perhaps he will detail this elsewhere. However, I think he might be suggesting a cabal of curial officials and cardinals tied up in financial corruption, possibly linked with political forces in Rome, perhaps like the old P2 lodge scandal as revealed in that former scandal.  I have outlined in the The Conclave Chronicles what a hypothetical outline of what a plot might have looked like. For example, Bergoglio and the St. Gallen mafia making an alliance with the Curia (i.e., Cardinal Sodano), in an attempt to oust Benedict (see Benedict’s Resignation: A Theory of the Case (Part 1 of 2) and Benedict’s Resignation: A Theory of the Case (Part 2 of 2)).  Much of Benedict’s problems in Vatican appeared to stem from the curia, which was loyal to their old master, Cardinal Sodano.

We currently await a new book by Archbishop Ganswein, Benedict’s personal secretary. It appears that it will reveal various attempts to malign Benedict, and possibly to undermine him.  It will be interesting what Ganswein might say. But, based on all Benedict has said, and what Ganswein has said publicly before, my expectation is there will be no smoking gun proof of a plot to “force” Benedict out.

Laporta goes on to say:

In this Roman coté, arm in arm with the “God is dead” and “Jesus is a feiknius”, panic spread when SS Benedict XVI of venerable memory was elected, as in the court of the pharaoh when the Red Sea closed again. The “St. Gallen Mafia”? We’re not joking, it was a fig leaf in the face of that Roman coté, a dome of demons, which isolated SS Benedict XVI of venerable memory, leaving him alone while the assassins of the nescionalsecuiritiagensi (i.e., NSA) scourged the truth, and then crucified it.

Laporta’s reference above to the “assassins” of the NSA is obscure. What is he suggesting? What was the truth that was “scourged” and “crucified”?  Here again, Laporta needs to fill in the gaping holes.  It seems he is speculating at this point, and not reporting something he heard, or knows to be true.

Tentative Conclusions

The “NSA official” story cannot be accepted as is. Laporta needs to provide many more details.  I am not saying he can’t provide details. I am saying giving any credibility to the story depends on him doing so.  Hopefully, LifeSites’s Ms. Hickson is able to interview him in detail. We here at Roma Locuta Est would love to debrief him.

As said, to better evaluate Laporta’s article, we need to be able to distinguish between what he claims to know, and what he is offering only as his personal take as a blogger on the matters he mentions in the article. We need to know what he claims to have heard firsthand, what he knows to be true and factual, and detailed sources; and what he only believes as a matter of conjecture or speculation. His blog post, in my opinion, seems to be a confusing mixture, where one can’t tell where fact begins and leaves off, and where speculation begins and ends off.

So what does this story mean for the theory Benedict was forced out?  In my opinion, nothing at this point. The story’s credibility is still in question until some more detail and answers are provided. Laporta needs to provide answers to the sorts of questions I suggest above for starters, e.g., the when, where, who, etc., of the comments he reports. In addition, he also needs to explain why he waited 17 years after the fact, and 10 years after Benedict’s resignation to reveal the words of the supposed US government official.

I am not saying Laporta cannot answer these question in a satisfactory manner. I am saying such answers, and  other follow-ups, are necessary before anyone should grant his story has any credibility or relevance — or before granting it any status as a “bombshell.”

But, even so, the story in question on face value, based on what has been provided, doesn’t advance the evidential ball in the least for Benepapism, i.e., the theory Benedict’s resignation was invalid. We knew St. Gallen mafia and curial forces, probably prompted by Cardinal Sodano, greatly opposed both Benedict’s election and papacy, and supported the election of Cardinal Bergoglio in both 2005 and 2013.  This is enough basis in itself to suppose forces might have sought, or at least hoped for Benedict’s resignation (see Benedict’s Resignation: A Theory of the Case (Part 1 of 2) and Benedict’s Resignation: A Theory of the Case (Part 2 of 2)).

However, the problem for those desperately looking for some hope or proof in this story that Benedict’s resignation was invalid is this. The bottom line is, Benedict did not “soon” resign as the supposed NSA official alleged.  He resigned 8 years later.  Furthermore, Benedict explained to us why he resigned, i.e., due to weakness, etc. He had communicated this desire sometime in the summer of 2012.  Archbishop Ganswein has recently said that Benedict XVI informed him of his firm intent to resign as early as September of 2012.  Benedict has said he knew a pope cannot resign under pressure, and that to avoid this appearance, he waited until the Vatileaks issue was resolved, which it was between October and December 2012.  At that point, it would be a short period between then and the consistory in February 11, 2013 when he gave his reasons in his Declaratio.  Furthemore, Benedict told his interviewer, Peter Seewald, the following in the years following his resignation (emphasis added):

“…On the contrary, the Vatileaks controversy was completely resolved. I said while it was still happening – I believe it was to you – that one is not permitted to step back when things are going wrong, but only when things are at peace. I could resign because calm had returned to this situation. It was not a case of retreating under pressure or a feeling that things couldn’t be coped with.” See Peter Seewald, Benedict XVI: Last Testament in his own words, p. 23.

So, as is clear.  Benedict did not resign out of a feeling of pressure or that “things couldn’t be coped with.”  He said he intentionally waited until Vatileaks was resolved before proceeding to resign.  In sum, whether or not some acted to try to force him out, or whether or not some even acted to undermine his papacy; he still freely resigned the papacy. In sum, Benedict said, clearly, he was not resigning because of any particular issue, other than weakness, etc.

So, you may ask.  All the above said, in my opinion, are there any theories still viable to suggest the 2013 conclave was invalid — given St. Gallen’s activities before that conclave?  Cardinal Burke in an interview on the Patrick Coffin was essentially asked this question in so many words.  He was not saying such a theory was viable.  He did say, one would have to prove (1) that the St. Gallen mafia engaged in an active campaign to undermine the pontificate of Benedict XVI, and (2) that the St. Gallen mafia, at the same time, engineered the election of someone to their liking (see Coffin interview here, especially at 20:39-21:33).

Again, I do not want to suggest Burke was suggesting anything of the sort, he was only answering Mr. Coffin’s question. It was a spontaneous answer, given with spur of moment reflection.  So, I would not necessarily hold the Cardinal to a spur of the moment analysis as to the conditions above.  Indeed, the Cardinal said such conditions would be very difficult to impossible prove. That said, for those interested, Roma Locuta Est took a hypothetical look at these two conditions in Benedict’s Resignation: A Theory of the Case (Part 1 of 2) and Benedict’s Resignation: A Theory of the Case (Part 2 of 2).

However, in the final analysis, my view remains that whatever the answer to the confusion of the last ten years may be, a Benepapist answer will not be it. While I would not be surprised if, one day, a future pope finds the election of Francis invalid and null, and Roma Locuta Est has taken a hard look at this (see The Conclave Chronicles), or something to that effect; I would not bet on it. Catholics should accept Francis as pope, even if they can only do so putatively, given (1) the resignation of Benedict was valid, and (2) the absence of a sufficient demonstration the 2013 conclave was invalid based on evidence now available to us.

For those Catholic following the topic of Benepapism, or who have been tempted by it; Roma Locuta Est has various resources which debunk the false and spurious claims of the Benepapists (see Summa Contra the BiP Theory (Why Benedict XVI is NOT the pope), and The Case against those who claim “Benedict is (still) pope”).  Also, my book which rebuts Benepapism was recently published (see Valid?  The Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI).

Steven O’Reilly is a graduate of the University of Dallas and the Georgia Institute of Technology. A former intelligence officer, he and his wife, Margaret, live near Atlanta. He has written apologetic articles, and is author of Book I of the Pia Fidelis trilogy, The Two Kingdoms; and of Valid? The Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI(Follow on twitter at @fidelispia for updates). He asks for your prayers for his intentions.  He can be contacted at StevenOReilly@AOL.com  or StevenOReilly@ProtonMail.com (or follow on Twitter: @S_OReilly_USA or on GETTR, TruthSocial, or Gab: @StevenOReilly).

Notes

[1] To date, this story has made the rounds on podcasts hosted by Taylor Marshall, Timothy Gordon, and I believe John-Henry Westin.


2 thoughts on “What about the Benedict and “NSA official” story?

  1. are you implying Ganswein, a longtime friend and confidant , could lie about Benedict regarding this book? Benedict has had nine years to assemble a tell all book.

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    1. Sam, thanks for the comment.

      Not sure what you mean, or how you can reach that implication from anything I said. I believe Ganswein will tell the truth. Some of the info out about the book seems to suggest he’ll defend Benedict against various attacks against him as pope, etc., which maligned and or undermined him in some way. On the subject of Benepapism, I saw a couple of paragraphs from the book on that already. Ganswein says the resignation was valid…which is my position as well, as stated on this site, and in my book.

      With regard to Benedict, he had almost ten years to write some sort of testament that would confirm Benepapist claims — IF THEY WERE TRUE. However, no such testament exists, for we would have already seen it. Therefore, this is just another reason to believe that Benepapist claims are nonsense. I discuss this “last testament” in another recent article: https://romalocutaest.com/2023/01/09/benedict-xvi-and-the-missing-last-testament/

      Regards.

      God bless,

      Steve

      Like

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