Rome, Dec. 6, 2014: Since the news that the new book by Dr. Austen Ivereigh, former spokesman for the Cardinal of Westminster, Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, contained allegations that a group of Cardinals canvassed for the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, numerous news outlets the world over have covered the story. The group of 4 to 7 Cardinals, whom Ivereigh nicknames, “Team Bergoglio”, “shocked and disappointed” by the revelations have take the extreme action of having Fr. Frederico Lombardi issue a carefully worded denial through the Italian News Blog, Il Sismografo (published by co-workers from Radio Vaticana).
The probity of Dr. Ivereigh’s testimony concerning the vote-canvassing campaign has been subject to question the world over in the last 2 weeks. For this reason, the From Rome blog considers it important to publish information regarding other sources which corroborate or disprove Dr. Ivereigh’s allegations, to shed further light on which of the two parties Dr. Ivereigh or the Cardinals are telling the truth.
The Church according to the oft declared teaching of Pope Francis, himself, should not be a place where the powerful silence the weak or hide behind their offices like aristocratic princes, concerning whom no action can be questioned and nothing untoward be imputed, regardless of whether it is true. For this reason, the “Team Bergoglio” story, whose history has been chronicled here at this blog (see here), represents one of the greatest challenges to the integrity, transparency and honesty of the Bergoglian papacy, if not its very validity in law.
Ivereigh knew of UDG 81 before the Conclave of 2013 began
That Dr. Ivereigh’s testimony in the print edition of his book has great probity, arises not only from the fact that he is former secretary to the very Cardinal who is implicated as the point-man for “Team Bergoglio” (Murphy-O’Connor), but also from the fact that he personally covered the news of the 2013 Conclave, blogging about it for Our Sunday Visitor and speaking on Television for the BBC. The video excerpt was posted on YouTube by Catholic Voices on February 22, 2014, ostensibly by Dr. Ivereigh himself.
In a telling report, filed by the BBC on March 12, 2013, the day before the Conclave began, Dr. Ivereigh shows himself knowledgeable of the papal rule forbidding canvassing for votes.
The interview took place at 17:03 local time, during the very act in which the Cardinal Electors took their vows to uphold the secrecy of the Conclave. Among which electors is seen Cardinal Bergoglio. Interviewed are Msgr. Mark Langham and Dr. Austen Ivereigh, founder of Catholic Voices.
The BBC reporter starts the conversation with an implication which seems to suggest all which The Great Reformer, the book by Dr. Ivereigh, is saying about “Team Bergoglio”, when the former says at 0:56 minutes: The way that one would want to write about this is to talk about the intrigue and the plotting and the scheming…
At 4:30, Dr. Ivereigh admits that he knows of UDG 81’s prescription that the Cardinals are excluded from canvassing pacts, saying, The norms governing the Conclave make sure that there should be no pacts, no agreements…
And at 12:05, Dr. Ivereigh furthermore admits to having met with Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor and discussed the pre-conclave affairs.
This interview by Dr. Ivereigh thus confirms, both that he had personal first hand knowledge of the requirements of the Papal Law, as well as personal contact with one member of “Team Bergoglio” in the days in which he now claims in his book, the vote-canvassing campaign was conducted. That makes his testimony on the affair, given in his book, of the highest probity.
Therefore, let us review again, the papal laws by which such a campaign could lead to an invalid election of the Pope.
The Terms of UDG 81, Excommunicate Electors for Voting Agreements
All who participated in the Conclave are by Pope John Paul II’s aforementioned Apostolic Constitution, Universi Dominici Gregis (UDG), paragraph 81 to avoid vote canvassing:
Let’s take a look, then, at the Latin original, to understand better how, not just any specific form of vote canvassing is a crime according to the Pope who “brought down the Wall”:
81. Cardinales electores praeterea abstineant ab omnibus pactionibus, conventionibus, promissionibus aliisque quibusvis obligationibus, quibus astringi possint ad suffragium cuidam vel quibusdam dandum aut recusandum. Quae omnia, si reapse intervenerint, etiam iure iurando adiecto, decernimus ea nulla et irrita esse, neque eadem observandi obligatione quemquam teneri; facientes contra iam nunc poena excommunicationis latae sententiae innodamus. Vetari tamen non intellegimus, ne per tempus Sedis vacantis de electione sententiae invicem communicentur.
The official English translation from the Vatican Website, renders this text, thus:
81. The Cardinal electors shall further abstain from any form of pact, agreement, promise or other commitment of any kind which could oblige them to give or deny their vote to a person or persons. If this were in fact done, even under oath, I decree that such a commitment shall be null and void and that no one shall be bound to observe it; and I hereby impose the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae upon those who violate this prohibition. It is not my intention however to forbid, during the period in which the See is vacant, the exchange of views concerning the election.
This translation is not exact. Here is my own exact translation:¹
81. Let the Cardinal electors, moreover, abstain from all pacts, agreements, promises and any other obligations you like, by which they might be constrained to give or refuse support (suffragium) for anyone (sing. & plural). All of which, if these were to occur, even when having sworn an oath, We decree are null and void, and none of them are to be held by any obligation of observance; those acting against (this), We now, hereby, bind up with the punishment of excommunication latae sententiae. Yet, We do not understand to be forbidden, that they communicate with one another concerning the election, during the time of the Sedevacante.
The Terms of Canon 171, §2 Invalidate elections in which Excommunicated Electors participate
What makes the revelations of Dr. Ivereigh so challenging to the papacy of Cardinal Bergoglio is that Canon 171 invalidates elections in which the number of votes required for victory was obtained by the counting of votes from electors who were excommunicated at the time of the voting. This Canon sanctions not only those who sought votes, but also those who agreed to give them. If the allegations of Dr. Ivereigh are true, then as many as 16 Cardinals, the number reported to have initially voted for Cardinal Bergoglio in the first ballot, would be suspect, and thus the final vote of 78 votes, which is only 2 more than the required 78, would be in doubt as to its validity.
Here is the official Latin text of Canon 171:
Can. 171 — § 1. Inhabiles sunt ad suffragium ferendum:
1° incapax actus humani;
2° carens voce activa;
3° poena excommunicationis innodatus sive per sententiam iudicialem sive per decretum quo poena irrogatur vel declaratur;
4° qui ab Ecclesiae communione notorie defecit.
§ 2. Si quis ex praedictis admittatur, eius suffragium est nullum, sed electio valet, nisi constet, eo dempto, electum non rettulisse requisitum suffragiorum numerum.
Here is the official English translation from the Vatican website:
Can. 171 §1. The following are effected to vote:
- 1/ a person incapable of a human act;
- 2/ a person who lacks active voice;
- 3/ a person under a penalty of excommunication whether through a judicial sentence or through a decree by which a penalty is imposed or declared;
- 4/ a person who has defected notoriously from the communion of the Church.
§ 2. If one of the above is admitted, the person’s vote is null, but the election is valid unless it is evident that, with that vote subtracted, the one elected did not receive the required number of votes.
That the Apostolic Constitution by Pope John Paul II, Universi Dominic Gregis, regulating papal elections is a decree in the sense mentioned in Canon 171 §1, n. 3, can be had from Canons 29 ff. on general decrees.
¹ In paragraph 81, the term suffragium in Latin has the proper meaning of “support”, but the technical meaning of “vote”. In English, we say that one pledges his support for a candidate, to signify that one promises to vote for him at election time.