Pope Francis Reveals Papal Election Maneuvers and Vatican Tensions in Book Interview

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Pope Francis has brought to light the political tactics employed to influence votes during recent papal elections while refuting claims of intending to reform the conclave process in the future, as revealed in a book-length interview released on Tuesday.

The revelations, disclosed in “The Successor: My Memories of Benedict XVI,” offer insights into the Argentine pope’s relationship with the late German pope and address certain conflicts with Benedict’s long-serving aide.

Authored as a dialogue with Javier Martínez-Brocal, correspondent for Spain’s ABC daily, the publication coincides with a sensitive period for the 87-year-old Francis. Concerns regarding his health, the potential for his resignation akin to Benedict, and the eventual succession have been raised.

In the book, Francis divulged previously confidential information concerning the 2005 and 2013 conclaves. He noted being “used” in 2005 by cardinals aiming to prevent Benedict’s election, ultimately leading to Ratzinger’s victory. Similarly, in 2013, he recounted realizing the support behind him only at a late stage.

Francis denied rumors of planning conclave rule reforms, particularly concerning discussions before papal elections. He did, however, mention revising protocols for papal funerals, intending to ensure dignified but not extravagant ceremonies.

The pope also addressed tensions with Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, Benedict’s longtime secretary, citing imprudent decisions leading to difficulties. Gaenswein’s perceived role in conservative opposition during Francis’s tenure is highlighted, including incidents like Cardinal Robert Sarah’s book publication alongside Benedict.

Blaming Gaenswein for the affair, Francis acknowledged sidelining him following the incident. Gaenswein’s posthumous memoir, released after Benedict’s death, further strained their relationship.

Francis emphasized Benedict’s support and denied any conservative maneuvers against him. He clarified that his homily at Benedict’s funeral adhered to liturgical protocol, contrary to conservative criticism.

In essence, Pope Francis’s revelations shed light on the intricate politics surrounding papal elections and internal tensions within the Vatican, while reaffirming his commitment to the papal office and the Church’s traditions.

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