Vatican plot to force Pope Francis to resign: Conservatives wage ‘secret plan’ to put the liberal pontiff under so much stress he will step down, Italian cardinal reveals
- Conservatives inside the Vatican are said to be plotting to oust Pope Francis
- His liberal views and changes to Latin Mass drew suspicion from traditionalists
- The Pope’s resignation was ‘unlikely’ while his predecessor Benedict XVI lived
- Following Benedict’s death on December 31, conservatives are now mobilising
The move to oust the liberal-minded pontiff, 86, began in earnest just days after the death of his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on December 31.
Although Pope Francis has previously declared he would step down if his health deteriorates, it was deemed unlikely to happen while Benedict XVI was alive in order to prevent an unprecedented situation of three Popes living at the Vatican, The Telegraph reports.
Speaking to Italian newspaper La Stampa, a cardinal said the conservative faction is ready to move against the ‘communist’ Pope.
Pope Francis (centre), 86, pictured presiding over the funeral of his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI last week, is facing a revolt among conservative cardinals
Pope Francis (left) greets the retired Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (right) in the chapel of the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, inside the Vatican, in 2020
He said: ‘The secret plan will be formulated on various axes and phases, but it will have one objective – to place the pontificate under such stress that Francis will have to resign.
‘The opponents of Francis know that right now they are in a minority, that they will need time to both win a consensus and to weaken [him].’
The cardinal added that the campaign would hinge upon ‘the progressive weakening of the Holy Father as well as his doctrinal choices, which will create a great deal of discontent which can be used against him.’
Formerly known as Cardinal Bergoglio, Pope Francis became pontiff in 2013 after the resignation of the arch-conservative Benedict.
His appointment signalled a definite change in the Catholic church, with his criticism of capitalism and open attitude toward homosexuality, abortion, communion for remarried divorcees and celibacy for priests.
Pope Francis, who succeeded Benedict in 2013, sat in a chair near the altar in front of the crowd of tens of thousands of mourners for the late Pope’s funeral
As many as 100,000 mourners gathered in St Peter’s Square last week, which was shrouded in the mist, for a sombre two-hour ceremony as Pope Benedict IVI was laid to rest
A ‘conservative’ group inside the Vatican is said to be plotting to oust Pope Francis (Pictured: cardinals from around the world at the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI)
La Stampa reports said some opponents will be open in their criticism of the pope, while others will operate ‘in the shadows’.
A key figure in the faction against him is understood to be Cardinal Georg Gänswein, who spent 19 years as personal secretary to Pope Benedict, and has been nicknamed ‘the George Clooney of the Holy See’ because of his good looks.
Speaking to German press, Cardinal Gänswein blasted the pope’s decision to limit the traditional Latin Mass, saying it had ‘broken the heart’ of his predecessor.
in his autobiography, Archbishop Gänswein, 66, recalled how he was unable to reach ‘a climate of trust’ with pope Francis and was ‘shocked and speechless’ when he lost his position in the papal household in 2020.
Other members of the traditionalist movement include cardinals Raymond Burke, an American, and Gerhard Ludwig Müller, who was a close ally of Benedict XVI.
As many as 100,000 mourners gathered in St Peter’s Square for the late pope’s funeral on January 4, with a host of royalty in attendance including King Philippe of Belgium and dowager Queen Sofia of Spain.
Francis, who arrived on a wheelchair and stood with the aid of a stick, did not mention Benedict by name in his homily until the final line. Referring to Jesus as the ‘bridegroom’ of the church, he said: ‘Benedict, faithful friend of the bridegroom, may your joy be complete as you hear his voice, now and forever.’