Preparing for the Next Conclave (2)

January 04, 2022
Andrea Riccardi

During the meeting he had with his fellow Jesuits in Slovakia on September 12, 2021, Pope Francis denounced the suspicious behavior of certain prelates, during and after his surgery on July 4. “They were preparing for the conclave,” he said.

The first part presented the three trends that are noticeable among the cardinals. This second part introduces one of the most influential lobby groups.

Operation Sant ’Egidio

For his part, Sandro Magister - on his blog Settimo Cielo of October 12 - sees the influence of the Community of Sant’ Egidio weighing heavily on the election of Francis's successor. The candidate of this progressive community - zealous organizer of the interfaith meeting in Assisi (October 27, 1986) and those that followed - is Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, Archbishop of Bologna.

This prelate, Zuppi, stands, according to Sandro Magister, in the shadow of Andrea Riccardi, “one of the founders of the community of Sant' Egidio, which is unquestionably the most powerful Catholic lobby in recent decades worldwide.”

It will be “all the more influential, in a future conclave, the more the college of cardinal electors - after their ill-treatment by Pope Francis both in the appointments and in the failure to convene consistories – has become disordered, uncertain in its judgment and easily maneuvered by internal and external pressures.”

According to the Roman Vaticanist, “also in the conclaves of 1978, 2005 and 2013, the men of Sant’ Egidio tried to steer the outcome. Each time without success, but afterwards always with then the chameleon-like ability to adapt perfectly to each new pope, to the point of reaching the apogee with the pontificate of Francis, who not only promoted Zuppi to archbishop of Bologna and cardinal but placed Vincenzo Paglia at the head of the Vatican Institutes for Life and Family, put Matteo Bruni at the head of the press office, and, lastly, appointed as vice-presidents of the re-founded Pontifical Joh Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family the spouses  Agostino Giovagnoli and Milena Santerini, the former also a tireless advocate of the disastrous current papal policy with China.”

The Community of Sant’ Egidio did not wait for the current pandemic to move forward. Sandro Magister reveals the tactics of its leaders: “the cunning of the men of Sant’Egidio is in not taking sides publicly on the most truly controversial issues in the Church, especially if they touch upon the foundations of doctrine, but navigating in calm and publicity-friendly waters such as symposiums for peace and mother earth, as well as charitable activities with the poor.”

“When, on the other hand, due to the role they fill, they really cannot avoid taking a position, their rule is to station themselves on the 'pastoral' terrain, the one so dear to Pope Bergoglio,  which allows them to preach and practice the most diverse solutions, especially if they conform to the spirit of the time, asserting in words that the doctrine always remains the same.”

“Paglia’s confused declarations on euthanasia are one example among many, as is the cryptic preface by Cardinal Zuppi to the Italian edition of the book Building a Bridge by the Jesuit James Martin, which Francis greatly admires, in support of a new pastoral approach to homosexuals.”

Sandro Magister affirms that the one to govern the Church if Cardinal Zuppi “is elected, will not be he, but Andrea Riccardi, the almighty founder and head of the community where no leaf has ever fallen without his say so.”

“Riccardi also knows that in order to win the succession to Francis it is necessary to take a certain tactical distance from the current pope, as required by the physiology of each change of pontificate.”

"And this is what he has done in a recent book of analysis on the current state of the Church, very critical right from the title, La Chiesa brucia [The Church is Burning], as if to invoke a change of course, but also very vague on the new path to follow, as if not wanting to upset anyone.”

And the Vaticanist cautiously concluded: “But that the operation will succeed remains to be seen. Indeed, it will not succeed at all, once the mask is removed.”