Suspected plot to topple Pope Francis

Pope Francis. Image credit: Vatican News

 VATICAN CITY – It has been suggested that there is a plot to engineer Pope Francis’ resignation. 

 Questions are being raised as to whether there is a coordinated attempt to get rid of him, Il Messaggero reported on Thursday.

 Arturo Sosa, the Jesuit Superior General, said – “There are sectors outside and inside the Vatican pushing for Francis’ resignation, with the ultimate aim of ensuring that the next pontiff acts in a way contrary to the guidelines expressed by the current pontificate.”

 According to Sosa, the real objective of groups wanting Francis to resign was to influence the next papal elections, and thus to create an environment in which the next pope would not follow the path that Francis has taken.

 Although Francis certainly faces considerable opposition both within the Church hierarchy and the wider world, it is as yet unclear how far this represents a coordinated attempt to force a resignation. 

 Ideas of a plot are in part thanks to new book “How America wants to change the pope,” by journalist Nicolas Senéze.  It outlines the attacks on Francis from former papal ambassador to Washington, Carlo Maria Viganò, who openly demanded Francis’ resignation.

 Il Messaggero reported on Tuesday suggestions of an organised opposition to Francis with links to Steve Bannon, former advisor to President Donald Trump. 

 The idea that criticisms of the controversial pope add up to a conspiracy to pressure him into resigning has been refuted by some.  In contrast to Sosa, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri has intervened to downplay concerns, stating:

 “The Pope is the Pope and leads the Church at the current time.  Personally I am not aware of anything else.”

 Under canon law, popes may resign but must do so freely.  The last to resign was Benedict XVI in 2013.  He was the first to do so in almost 600 years, and was motivated by ill-health.   

 Francis being forced into resignation would be unprecedented in the modern era, although as yet he appears to have no plans to give in to such pressure as may exist. 

 Sosa stated that Francis “was not really thinking about resigning” and went on to say that the pope would not resign.