Pope Francis faces the real possibility of being ousted by Vatican conservatives amid a “secret plan” to get rid of the pontiff following the death of Pope Benedict XVI. The aim of the plan is reportedly to force Pope Francis out through excessive stress.
The source, an Italian cardinal, told the La Stampa newspaper: “The secret plan will be formulated on various axes and phases, but it will have one objective – to place the pontificate under such stress that Francis will have to resign.”
The cardinal added, however: “The opponents of Francis know that right now they are in a minority, that they will need time both to win consensus and to weaken Bergoglio.”
Bergoglio was Pope Francis’ name before he took on the position of head of the Catholic Church.
The conservative officials apparently see Pope Francis as too liberal on homosexuality, abortion, and communion for remarried divorcees.
Such is the derision with which Pope Francis is held by some inside the Vatican that he is referred to as a “communist”.
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Another cardinal, speaking to a German newspaper said that Pope Francis’s actions had not been lost on the recently departed Pope Benedict XVI.
His personal secretary said Francis’s decision to crack down on the use of Latin had “broken the heart” of Pope Benedict.
In fact, the death of the late Pope is believed to have played a role in the decision to enact or not to enact this “secret plan”.
It is thought that if Francis was pushed out while Pope Benedict was alive that the unprecedented presence of three living Popes would be an embarrassing position for the Catholic Church.
However, while Benedict could be pushed out of the papal chair, there is always the chance he could jump due to health reasons of another kind.
In recent years, Francis has suffered from several health issues. In 2021 he had surgery on his bowel and knee pain in recent months means he has been forced to use a wheelchair.
The pontiff has even said he would resign from the role if his health issues became too severe.
Speaking to the Spanish newspaper ABC he said he wrote a resignation letter shortly after being elected as Pope just in case health issues stopped him from carrying out his obligations.
He said: “I signed it and said: ‘If I should become impaired for medical reasons or whatever, here is my resignation. Here you have it.'”
If the pontiff were to resign it would follow the lead of his predecessor who resigned due to his advancing age.
Pope Francis shocked the globe when he resigned in 2013, creating the situation of two living Popes, a papal incident which had not occurred for centuries.
However, should Francis resign in the same way then the same situation would arise once more.
As to who will replace Francis is unclear, while the conservative cardinals are considered loud, they are a minority.
Whichever cardinal takes on the white robes will enter into a Catholic Church existing in an increasingly secular world.