Dr. Robert Moynihan
Exclusive NEWSFLASH from Inside the Vatican!
VATICAN CITY, Wednesday, April 6, 2005 -- This afternoon, an Italian colleague called me with a rumor.
He said he had heard from an Italian monsignor rather highly placed in the Vicariate of Rome that the Pope's testament, written on 16 pages, in Polish, beginning in 1979 (so, not just during his last illness), now translated into Italian, and which is due to be made public in a few hours, contains startling, almost incredible passages.
Before explaining what this monsignor told us, I wish to make one point clear: I am not reporting "news," I am reporting what they call in Italian a "voce," a "rumor."
Normally, of course, such rumors are not to be reported. It is a certain way to lose all journalistic credibility.
But I think I may be pardoned for mentioning this "rumor" here, for the following reasons.
First, that it is, in fact "true" -- that is, it is "true" that this rumor, amid many others, is flying about the city of Rome.
This tells us something about the mood in Rome right now. So, for those who are not in Rome, it seems important to inform them that in every cafe, on every street corner, in every newsroom, people are discussing rumors. "Did you hear that..." And, "No, but I heard this..." And so forth.
So, I am making the rather self-serving justification for publishing this rumor by claiming that I am making a contribution to the understanding of Rome's mood on the eve of the release of the contents of the Pope's testament. Historians may be grateful.
Second, it is a cautionary tale. In the absence of hard and clear news, rumors always germinate and grow, sometimes taking on a life of their own. We all have seen this phenomenon. So, to report this rumor in this case is to give a true insight into the "mood" and even the "mental world" in which journalists, Vatican monsignors and ordinary mourners in Rome are now living, just two days before John Paul's funeral, and 11 days before the scheduled opening of the papal conclave on April 18.
Finally, in this case, it seemed to me, that, since the Pope's testament will in any case be made public in less than 12 hours, most likely "scotching" this rumor for the "poison apple" (false story peddled by non-credible and perhaps malevolent sources) that one imagines it must be, it could be published now, in the middle of the Roman night, knowing that in a brief time it would be tested by the light of day, and the true facts.
I should also mention that I discussed this news this afternoon with producers at CNN and with other journalists, and all agreed it was not reportable "news" in that there was no way to check the report, especially given that all the cardinals who could confirm or deny it are sworn to secrecy under pain of excommunication.
What did my monsignor source say?
That John Paul II, in his testament, names the man he believes would make a worthy successor for him, and, that the name mentioned is that of an Italian bishop.
I will not speculate further on what this might mean; it will be soon enough for such meditations, tomorrow afternoon...
This same source said that the testament contains the name of a mystery cardinal "in pectore," but that, without the two written witnesses to confirm this name, the name will not be accepted.
As John Paul's funeral approaches (it is scheduled for Friday morning at 10:00 AM)[3 a.m. EDT, 2 a.m. CDT, 1 a.m. MDT, Midnight PDT], it seems to be taking on the characteristics of a world political and religious summit, to be held outdoors, in the presence of hundreds of thousands, and or hundreds of millions worldwide. This raises spontaneously the question of whether this funeral can in some way be of cathartic importance for humanity.
Under the headline "Brazilian cardinal says he doesn't think he will be chosen as pope," a Brazilian news agency has suggested that the Archbishop of Sao Paulo, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, is taking his candidacy for the papacy "off the table."
Hummes says he does not believe in pundits who have said he's in the running to be chosen as successor to John Paul II. Before leaving for Rome, Hummes, 70, said he expected to return soon to Brazil. "Surely I will return soon, to resume the post of archbishop of Sao Paulo," he told reporters, the dpa agency reported.
Several of Hummes's aides cited by Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper Wednesday said the cardinal is "certain" he will be returning to Sao Paulo, not staying on in Rome as pope.
Nonetheless -- and here follows that dreaded word once again -- speculation that he might become the successor of John Paul II prompted a publishing house to speed up publication of a book of 110 newspaper articles by Hummes. Originally scheduled for May, the book's launching was brought forward to Friday, even though Hummes will not be in Sao Paulo.
Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, 88 (so, not one of the voters because over 80) told a Roman newspaper that he does not see "the possibility" of an Italian Pope. Cardinal Francis Arinze, in Nigeria, seemed to take his own candidacy off the charts by saying that the Western world is "not ready" for "an African Pope." This occurred just as a Spanish newspaper, La Razon of Madrid, published an article in which a priest argued that the American CIA was attempting to use the world's media to influence the election precisely of Arinze, in order to avoid the election of a strong European Pope.
A priest sketched for me a scenario in which, with no Italian candidate (per Angelini) and no African (per Arinze) the choice would fall naturally on... Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. But, Ratzinger is opposed by a considerable, but minority, group of cardinals, this theorist said. These opponents will become so concerned that they may even foment protests and demonstrations, then, as an ultimate weapon, threaten... schism. "Ratzinger will be elected, but, fearing he will split the Church, he will step aside when the left threatens schism. The moment of the battle has not yet come. It will come after the reading of the Testament."
For those who are curious about the odds being given for different candidates by betting agencies, consider this link: http://grand-national.bestbetting.com/specials/current-affairs/religion/who-will-be-the-next-pope
This betting page gives the best odds to Milan's cardinal archbishop, Dionigi Tettamanzi, who is regarded as a conservative. But one of our colleagues has compiled this special report entitled "Two Italian Cardinals":
"Gentlemen: It has come to my attention that there are two Italian cardinals in the running to become our next Pope -- one excellent, the other exceedingly bad.
"First, the bad news:
"1.One of the men being heavily promoted to become our next pope is the notorious Dionigi Tettamanzi, the Cardinal-archbishop of Milan. This has caused great apprehension among orthodox Catholics concerned about the future of the Church. Tettamanzi is frequently described in the media as a 'conservative,' but in reality, from what I have been told, there is nothing conservative about him. He is -- I quote trusted sources -- a 'wolf-in-sheep's clothing,' a dangerous innovator, who, if given a chance, might make John XXIII and Paul VI look like Hard-Right Traditionalists -- I kid you not -- Tettamanzi's detractors believe he would usher in ANOTHER REVOLUTION were he to become pope.
"What is the evidence for this? Well, for starters -- and even the Encyclopedia Britannica might not be able to contain all of this man's antics, were it to chronicle them -- Tettamanzi is best known as the main contributor to a book of essays on 'Christian Anthropology and Homosexuality,' in Italian: Antropologia cristina e omossessualita -- now in its THIRD PRINTING. The essays caused a sensation when they first appeared, and have now been immortalized in a book -- popular among liberal psychologists and 'forward-thinking progressives' -- but Tettamanzi's book has flown beneath the radar screens of most Americans, and certainly the media. It is an overt attempt to 'understand' the homosexual ethos, from a 'new' Christian perspective -- the same perspective which has led to so much permissiveness in our seminaries and beyond.
"Tettamanzi has successfully fooled certain Catholics into believing he is a 'conservative' because he uses traditional, even pious language, even mentioning the influence of Satan, in a transparent effort to inoculate himself from any suspicion. He apparently even has the support of some in Opus Dei. Also, he has an innocent, roly-poly look which leads some to believe he is a jovial, harmless prelate, not at all looking to rock the boat. But if you get beyond the 'conservative' reputation, and his disarming appearance -- if you read him carefully, and you talk to people in the know, they will tell you that Tettamanzi, were he to become Pope, would be the worst disaster to befall the Church in many a century. In fact, one colleague admitted to me privately: 'If the new Pope walks out onto the papal balcony, and I see Dionigi Tettamanzi's smiling face, I think I'm going to collapse. I'll be curled up into a fetal position, and it will take several weeks for friends to rouse me. The Church, as we know it, will be over.'
"Over and above his sympathy toward the homosexual ethos is Tettamanzi's ambition, which is looked down upon in Rome. Indeed, if there is one thing which may prevent Tettamanzi from becoming Pope -- perhaps our best hope -- it is this unbridled ambition -- in today's Church, ambition is less forgivable than adopting a 'new' perspective on sexual immorality. Among the orthodox, a cry has gone out to the faithful Cardinals gathering for the Conclave: 'No to Tettamanzi!' and even 'Anybody but Tettamanzi!' (Well, almost anybody -- we wouldn't want anybody from the Netherlands, for example).
"2. In contrast to Tettamanzi, is my choice for Pope, a man I am praying and even predicting will be our next Pope -- a cardinal who has not gotten too much media attention but is a favorite among the orthodox, and very much in the mold of our best popes like Pius XII -- a pastor, a diplomat, and intellectual -- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, now the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
"He is known to be quite faithful, severe when he needs to be, but also open to change and reform that would strengthen the faithful (he has been in the forefront of fighting the evils of homosexual priestly child abuse, unlike many other Church officials), and immensely compassionate, intelligent and aware of the Church's -- and the world's -- most serious problems.
"He is a man of peace and conciliation whose reach is not limited to Europe -- he has very close connections to the Third World -- but he is not naive about real dangers in our age of Terror, and has a very realistic appreciation of the contemporary world. He is not afraid to preach the Gospel and/or the truths of the Church to anyone, and has an excellent relationship with the world's bishops. Everything else I have been told about Cardinal Re, who attends confession frequently -- so sensitive he is to sin -- leads me to believe that 'he will be a magnificent Pope' -- as Pius XI said of Cardinal Pacelli, before the latter became Pius XII -- who would lead the Church into the twenty-first century, picking up and extending the great legacy of John Paul II, while also -- if I can say so respectfully -- clean up some of John Paul II's underreported messes.
"Here is a very telling comment, on Cardinal Tettamanzi, from Time magazine's cover story (April 11th) on the passing of John Paul II, and who is hustling to take his place: 'The former Archbishop of Genoa who has succeeded Martini (the very liberal Jesuit and one-time Great Hope of the liberals) in Milan. His [Tettamanzi's] philosophical approach is sufficiently unclear that neither the progressive Cardinals nor the doctrinaire are likely to oppose him.' A perfect -- and chilling -- description of Tettamanzi's elusive, deceptive, oh-so-seductive thinking: he is like the German philosopher Heidegger, or the impenetrable Immanual Kant: his philosophical novelties are like little time bombs; but they are so dense and incomprehensible that nobody understands them at first... but Tettamanzi's got that smile, and he reminds people of John XXIII, so people think he must be great. But wait: ecclesiastical in-fighting to the rescue: Time indicates that the liberal Cardinal Martini--whom the ambitious Tettamanzi replaced in a bitter transition -- is still upset with the way he was unceremoniously forced to retire, and Time indicates that Martini may enact revenge at the Conclave: 'Martini, the man who might have been Pope, could work to derail Tettamanzi's candidacy.'
"Yes, go Cardinal Martini! Martini is far too liberal to ever become Pope; but he can block Tettamanzi, so Cardinal Re can score a theological touchdown and become Pope.
"Note: the following article, on who may be the next Pope, from the Chicago Tribune, says the odds-on favorite is the 'conservative' Tettamanzi, but Cardinal Re is closing in on him as a rival -- of course, the Italians could cancel each other out, and we could usher in a Third World Pope; but if not, Re could emerge from the conclave as...Pope John Paul III.
(http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0504030438apr03,1,3559361.story?coll=chi-news-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true) (Editor: You must register with the Chicago Tribune to access this article.)
vol 15, no. 97