Friday, April 20, 2012

The Cardinal Benedict Voted For Pope In 2005 - Cardinal Biffi

Put this in sort of the well that is interesting file. Translated on this page here:

So do we now know who Cardinal Ratzinger voted for in the 2005 conclave?


Translated from La Repubblica

April 19, 2012

If this lip-smacking indiscretion is reliable, it was the only time that Cardinal Giacomom Biffi, emeritus Archbishop of Bologna, failed to keep his word. In fact, he never did smack his intended victim in the face, as he had threatened for rhetorical emphasis during the 2005 Conclave.

It was April 18, 2005, and after the third balloting, the cardinal heard himself for the third time credited with having received one vote. With his usual good humor, he turned to the cardinal next to him and said, "I've been getting this one vote. If I ever find out the obstinate person who is responsible for this, I'll smack him in the face".

His colleague retorted: "Eminence, clearly we are about to elect a Pope... And it seems obvious that this candidate chose to vote for you! So if you are to keep your word, you'd have to smack the Pope!" A Catholic journalist, Francisco Grana, who has often had access to behind-the-scenes information, has written about this on the site, and concludes that whereas almost everyone was voting for him, Cardinal Ratzinger himself was voting for Cardinal Biffi.

Grana does not identify his source, although he was known to be a close friend of the late emeritus Archbishop of Naples, Cardinal Michele Giordano, who was also a good friend of Cardinal Ratzinger. But seven years since the incident, which sounds plausible at the very least, it is quite amusing, but it also serves to cast some light on the figure of Cardinal Biffi.

Biffi was not exactly a papabile in 2005. Although he was the theological and moral reference point for the conservative wing of the Church in Italy, the then Archbishop of Bologna never wanted to be a standard-bearer for anything.

Well-known for his independence and original preaching, he was never interested either in climbing the ecclesiastical ladder. And surely, Cardinal Ratzinger was his candidate. It is said that when the new Pope was delivering his first address to the Conclave cardinals, Biffi was seen nodding emphatically from his seat. To those who had been asking him earlier if he was interested in becoming Pope, Biffi avoided the standard 'Domine non sum dignus...' (Lord, I am not worthy) demurral for an ironic "No, life is better in Bologna".

It was known he had no appetite for the atmosphere in the Roman Curia, although he was called once to preach the Lenten spiritual retreat by John Paul II. Then called again for the same task by Benedict XVI himself in 2007.

Biffi was most original, as usual, in his approach, and in concluding the retreat, Benedict XVI said: "I would like to thank you for your realism, your humor, and your concreteness," going on to refer to "the rather daring theology of one of your housekeepers", cited by Biffi in one of the meditations. "I would not dare refer her words 'The Lord perhaps had his defects' to the judgment of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith," the Pope remarked.

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