Papal Vote Rigged?

Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

Papal Vote Rigged?

Poland and mathematics seem to go together.

Fifteenth-century Polish astronomer and mathematician Nicolaus Copernicus cemented a place in modern history for the Poles and mathematics with his famous treatise, On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres. In it, he demonstrated that the sun is the center of the Earth’s solar system, not the Earth, as claimed by Aristotelian Catholic dogma at the time.

Much later, in the 20th century, numerous Poles became quite renowned for contributing to the development of the science of mathematics.

Perhaps it ought not be surprising, then, to discover that another famous Pole of more recent years was a numbers man: one Karol Wojtyla, the former Pope John Paul ii.

It is a documented fact that John Paul ii and the present pope, Benedict xvi, were close collaborators in working to squelch the liberalism that had overtaken the Roman Catholic Church since Vatican ii. The history of this duo was one of Wojtyla smoothing the path for the church’s transition into the 21st century behind a seemingly benign and smiling manner, while using Ratzinger to fire the bullets at the enemy.

The closeness of the collaboration between these two, Wojtyla the Pole and Ratzinger the German, is revealed by the fact that Ratzinger alone, of all the Vatican emissaries with which John Paul ii held audience throughout his papacy, was permitted to speak with the pope, in private, in his native German tongue, when they met privately each Friday evening.

There can be little doubt that the two closely collaborated in the choice of entrenched conservative priests for elevation to the College of Cardinals, during John Paul’s reign. What may not be truly appreciated by most is that, not only does it appear that the two colluded to stack the deck with a record number of—primarily conservative—cardinals in anticipation of the papal conclave that would vote in John Paul ii’s successor, it appears also that they colluded to change the ancient, time-honored voting system so as to diminish any risk of Joseph Ratzinger not being the successful candidate.

The New York Times, reporting on the consistory of 2001, stated, “When the pope formally gives these aides, known as princes of the church because of their power to advise and choose popes, their red hats in a consistory on February 21 in Rome, it will be the largest College of Cardinals ever, exceeding by 8 the limit of 120 voting cardinals that was set by Pope Paul vi” (Jan. 22, 2001). Noting the right-wing bent of the majority of these princes of Rome, the Times observed, “This time, the frail, 81-year-old pope seemed intent on packing the college with loyalists while he still can …. The [conservative] ideological makeup of the new College of Cardinals is not likely to change as a result of the pope’s latest choices. As of February [2001], there will be 128 voting cardinals, and 118 of them will have been appointed by this pope; they were chosen in large part because they followed his teachings and shared his basic principles.”

The popularity enjoyed by this smiling “pope of the people” largely masked his innate conservative tendencies. He was the perfect foil for his primary aide, Joseph Ratzinger, seen as a strict disciplinarian, who acted largely, and quite powerfully, behind the scenes and out of the limelight.

By the time John Paul ii passed from the world stage, the die was already cast (with the enclave being heavily weighted toward the conservatives), in the direction of choosing, as his successor, a right-wing pope.

But, it now appears that this was not the only numbers game that the Ratzinger/Wojtyla team got up to. It was revealed last week that there may have been more to it than meets the eye as to the reason behind John Paul ii’s unprecedented changing of the mathematics of the formula for voting in the next pope.

Back in the 1990s, John Paul ii broke with an ancient Vatican tradition. As the Rome-based Catholic news source Chiesa reported last week, “On 22 Feb., 1996, he issued an Apostolic Constitution entitled Universi Dominici Gregis, ‘The Lord’s Whole Flock.’ In it he decreed that in the event of a threatening impasse at the conclave, the cardinals may decide by absolute majority (half of the votes plus one) to abrogate the traditional requirement of two thirds, and then they may proceed to the election of the new pope by the same absolute majority” (August 2).

The implications of this historic change were almost completely ignored by the press at large. However, the same source now reports the following: “Last July 18, at a press conference with cardinal secretary of state Tarcisio Bertone, there was a question about the conclave that elected Joseph Ratzinger as pope on April 19, 2005. Bertone replied: ‘I know that the numbers reported by the press are not exact, and I want to restate that.’ To the following question of whether the votes for Ratzinger had been more or fewer than the figures circulated, he added: ‘I don’t remember anything anymore; we burned the ballots.’”


A prince of the church cannot remember details of the most significant event in recent Vatican history since the election of the populist Pope John Paul ii in 1978? Surely Pope Benedict xvi did not appoint Bertone as Vatican secretary of state due to a tendency to forgetfulness! His knowledge of the truth of this murky matter may well have caused Bertone’s sudden case of amnesia when questioned by the press.

Consider this.

A total of 115 cardinals met to elect a new pope in 2005. “In the 2005 conclave, the majority needed for the election of a pope was initially two thirds, equal to 77 votes. But after 34 unsuccessful voting rounds, only 58 votes would have been necessary, one half plus one: This was established by the rules for conclaves promulgated in 1996 by John Paul ii. … [T]he matter becomes more understandable if one looks at the potential effects of the innovation introduced by John Paul ii. … And in the conclave of 2005, at which those rules were in effect, what effect did they have? … [A]nother prominent exponent of the Catholic progressive camp, the historian of Christianity Alberto Melloni, wrote about it in the June 27 edition of Corriere della Sera: The 40 votes for Bergoglio in the third round of voting ‘in other times would have scrapped Ratzinger’s candidacy’ …” (ibid., emphasis mine).

Simply put, the dramatic and unprecedented change that Pope John Paul ii made to the mathematics of voting to elect his successor, by over-stacking the deck with right-wing cardinals, then changing the formula of the vote itself, greatly restricted any prospect of his favored candidate for the job, Joseph Ratzinger, being beaten at the post.

“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” goes the famous line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Perhaps these papal shenanigans bespeak the fact that there’s something rotten in Rome!

In June, little commented on by the press, Pope Benedict xvi released a motu proprio that changed the rules for electing a pope back to the previous, and ancient, formula. Thus, the change to the voting rules, as enacted by Pope John Paul ii, will have only applied once in the entirety of the long history of the Roman Catholic Church … and once onlyto the case of one Joseph Ratzinger.

Chiesa reports that church historian Melloni maintains, “‘[A] shadow’ looms over Ratzinger’s election as pope. ‘It is clear from the current reform that Benedict xvi wants to free … himself—from this shadow’” (ibid.).

The fact is, this one shadow may well be a harbinger of more to come.

Watch the Vatican … and watch Pope Benedict xvi.

Watch, very carefully, as other shadowy affairs develop in Rome till its ancient religion eventually overshadows, yet one more time, “many waters” (Revelation 17:1). The actions of the Vatican under the leadership of Joseph Ratzinger may yet be destined to have global consequences in the not-too-distant future (verse 2).