What better way to start blogging on a Sunday than to offer up a modern-day Vatican conspiracy. When it comes to political intrigue the secrets within the Vatican can not be out done.
So far, most of the media attention has been focused on the three Fatima “secrets” that the Catholic Church believes were vouchsafed by the Virgin Mary to three shepherd children in Portuguese town of Fatima in 1917.
Two of the prophecies were published back in the in the 1940s but the Third Secret – supposedly too dangerous to reveal – remained sealed in the Vatican archives.
That silence naturally inflamed the religious imaginations of true believers in the secret prophecy.
So to calm the fevers, Saint John Paul II ordered the Third Secret published in full in 2000. He also had his top theologian, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, issue an accompanying explanation of the prophecy’s graphic descriptions of persecution and murdered popes and bishops.
But conspiracy theories die hard. And this year, shortly after the May 13 feast of Our Lady of Fatima, a traditionalist blog published claims that Ratzinger – who was elected Benedict XVI after John Paul died in 2005 – told a friend that there was more in the secret than had been published.
The blog also suggested that the hidden bits were dark predictions about the current papacy of Pope Francis and the turmoil, and even heresies, that some conservatives believe Francis has encouraged.
The charges were so explosive that the Vatican press office on May 21 issued a forceful denial directly quoting the frail, 89-year-old former pope. Benedict called the reports “pure inventions, absolutely untrue” and confirmed that “the publication of the Third Secret of Fatima is complete.”
Of course, not all Fatima devotees were convinced, and some argued that the denial was just part of the conspiracy – and so it goes.
And then there is this nugget.
But just as the Fatima story was making headlines, Benedict’s longtime personal aide, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, delivered a surprisingly candid speech that reignited the equally potent issue of whether there are two popes or one, or whether the papacy itself has been redefined.