Rorate Caeli

For the record: Italian media in a frenzy - bizarre plot rumors. Lombardi: "Madness"
Update: Content

Almost all Italian online media are in a frenzy tonight about a letter to be revealed in one of Italy's largest national dailies, Il Fatto Quotidiano.

We post the following for the record (from Corriere della Sera):
Milan - "Vatican, plots and intrigues. A plot against the Pope, he will die in the next 12 months" This is the title in the first page of Il Fatto Quotidiano in its February 10 edition.

Written in German - The news would have been given in a letter handed by Cardinal Castrillon to Benedict XVI. Included in the note, a report of a conversation [in a trip to China in November 2011] of the Archbishop of Palermo, [Cardinal] Romeo, in which he affirms that the Holy Father is in great risk and that an attack is feared within 12 months. The document is dated from December 30 2011, but it was given to the pope in January 2012. ... Romeo would have also spoken of the probable successor and indicated [Cardinal] Scola, Archbishop of Milan. The author of the article is journalist Marco Lillo. The director of Il Fatto Quotidiano, Antonio Padellaro, has said that the document will be published in its entirety in the paper. ... Soon afterwards, the reply of the Vatican arrived through Father Federico Lombardi, spokesman of the Holy See:  "These are clearly ravings, which are not at all taken seriously. This is madness."

We expect the actual text of the letter, whose authenticity has not been confirmed, to be published by Il Fatto Quotidiano and the eventual written response by the Holy See Press Office and by the Archdiocese of Palermo in the morning.

Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, president emeritus of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, was received in private audience by the Pope on January 13.

Update (0900 GMT): A translation of the text of the unsigned document.

It is a report on Cardinal Romeo's visit to Beijing in November 2011 and his words with his intelocutors, (in the Chinese government or in the Patriotic Association?), and, according to Il Fatto Quotidiano, the document's contents would have been written in German and delivered to the Pope by Cardinal Castrillón in January 2012.

The content itself, that is, that Cardinal Romeo visited Beijing and spoke in confidence to specific persons, does not sound implausible - only at the end the curious "prophecy" of Cardinal Romeo mentioned. (Source: Il Fatto Quotidiano - Tip: Papa Ratzinger blog).
Voyage to Beijing:

In November 2011, Cardinal Romeo arrived on a tourist visa in Beijing, where, in fact, he did not meet any personality of the Catholic Church in China, but rather Italian businessmen, who live or work in Beijing, and some Chinese interlocutors. In Beijing, Cardinal Romeo declared to have been personally sent by Pope Benedict XVI to move forward, or rather, to follow up with, the conversations launched by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos in China in March 2010. He also claimed to be the interlocutor designated by the Pope to be in charge, from now on, of the matters between China and the Vatican.

In a confidential conversation, Cardinal Romeo informed his interlocutors in China of having taken care, during his activity in the diplomatic Service of the Holy See, of the papal representation in the Philippines, of contacts with the Clandestine RKK [Roman Catholic Church, in abbreviation in the German original], and of being, due to this experience of his, the appropriate interlocutor to take care of the questions between China and the Vatican. He also declared to have been, between 1990 and 1999, the Apostolic Nuncio in Colombia and to have collaborated, precisely in that period, with Cardinal Castrillon. Cardinal Romeo surprised his interlocutors in Beijing by informing them that he - Romeo - formed, along with the the Holy Father - Pope Benedict XVI - and Cardinal Scola a troika. For the most important matters, therefore, the Holy Father would consult him - Romeo - and Scola.

Cardinal Romeo was told by the Chinese side the following: many Cardinals have visited China, but the most relevant visit in the relations between China and the Vatican was the one by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos in March 2010.


Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone:

Cardinal Romeo harshly criticized Pope Benedict XVI, because he was concerned mostly with the liturgy, neglecting "current affairs", entrusted by Pope Benedict XVI to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State of the Roman Catholic Church. The relationship between Pope Benedict XVI and his Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, was very conflictive. In an atmosphere of confidentiality, Cardinal Romeo mentioned that Pope Benedict XVI litterally hated Tarcidio Bertone and would replace him willingly with another Cardinal. Romeo added, however, that there was not another candidate suited to occupy this position and that for this Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone would continue to fulfill his job.

Also the relationship between the Secretary of State and Cardinal Scola was untoward and troubled.

Succession of Pope Benedict XVI:

The Holy Father was secretly taking care of his succession and had already chosen Cardinal Scola as a suitable candidate, because he is closer to his personality. Slowly but surely, he was thus preparing him and shaping him to fill the position of Pope.

On the initiative of the Holy Father - thus said Romeo - Cardinal Scola was transferred from Venice to Milan in order to prepare his Papacy from there calmly. Cardinal Romeo continued to surprise his interlocutors in China by feeding them rumors.

Confidently, as if he knew it in detail, Cardinal Romeo announced that the Holy Father would have only 12 months to live. During his conversations in China, he prophesized the death of Pope Benedict XVI within the following 12 months. The declarations of the Cardinal have been leaked, by a person probably informed of a serious criminal plot, with such certainty and firmness, that his interlocutors in China thought, frightfully, that an attack against the Holy Father is in the works. Cardinal Romeo seemed sure of himself and could not imagine that the declarations made in this round of secret conversations could be relayed by third parties to the Vatican.

Also sure of himself, Romeo prophesized that it seemed at the moment certain, even though still secret, that the successor of Pope Benedict XVI would be in any event a candidate of Italian origin. As described before, Cardinal Romeo emphasized that following the death of Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Scola will be elected Pope. Also Scola had important enemies in the Vatican.