Diary Tells Secrets

Of Papal Conclave

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina received enough votes at one point during the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI to have blocked the pontiff's election, according to a report published yesterday in Italy.

The report, published in the quarterly review Limes, draws from the diary of an anonymous cardinal who voted in the April conclave. In leaking his diary, the author appears to have compromised the oath of secrecy that the cardinals took upon entering the conclave.

According to the account, support for the Argentine peaked on the third ballot, with 40 votes -- the exact number required to block then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's election. On the same ballot, Ratzinger received 72 votes -- five shy of the required two-thirds majority. A total of 115 cardinals voted in the conclave.

Bergoglio, who emerged as a dark horse candidate weeks before the conclave, built momentum throughout the conclave, receiving 10 votes to Ratzinger's 47 on the opening ballot, which was held the evening of April 18. The next day, he received 35 votes on the second ballot, while Ratzinger garnered 65, the report said.

The diary is unclear as to why Bergoglio's candidacy faltered on the fourth vote, which elected Ratzinger. But the report suggests that Bergoglio appeared reluctant to challenge Ratzinger. Ratzinger had 84 votes, seven more than necessary; Bergoglio had 26.

Describing Bergoglio casting his vote beneath Michelangelo's "Last Judgment" fresco, the anonymous cardinal wrote: "He had his face fixed on the image of Christ judging the souls at the end of time. A suffering face that implored: God, don't do this to me."

Some reports after Benedict's election said Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the former archbishop of Milan, was Ratzinger's main rival. According to the diary, however, Martini received nine votes in the opening ballot and then dropped out of contention.

-- Religion News Service

Priest to Face

Trial in Rwanda

More than two weeks after his arrest in Rwanda on charges of complicity in the country's 1994 genocide, a Belgian priest remains in prison as his order continues to protest his innocence.

"It is completely incomprehensible to us," said the Rev. Gerard Chabanon, superior general of the Missionaries of Africa, referring to the arrest of 60-year-old Guy Theunis, a member of the missionary White Fathers order.

Theunis was arrested at the Kigali, Rwanda, airport Sept. 6, en route to Brussels after a trip to the Congo Republic. Rwanda's popular tribunal has accused the Belgian priest of helping incite the ethnic genocide that killed upwards of 800,000 people there.

In particular, it suggests he wrote articles inciting violence for a publication then called Dialogue and allegedly minimized the scope of the genocide.

But Theunis's order argues the priest had instead worked hard to promote peace between Rwanda's ethnic Hutus and Tutsis when he served in the country between 1970 and 1994. He fled the country with other Belgian expatriates when the genocide began.

Chabanon said the priest was in good mental and physical condition. Members of the White Fathers order in Rwanda visit him daily, Chabanon said, as does a diplomat from the Belgian consulate in Kigali. "He's able to face this trial and what is happening to him," Chabanon added of Theunis. "But we're still very concerned."

-- Religion News Service

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the archbishop of Buenos Aires.