According to highly reliable sources in the Vatican, Jorge Mario Bergoglio has expressed his decision to resign in December.  The news broke this morning in Rome, on the front page of the Libero Newspaper, in an article written by Antonio Socci.  The source cited is il Sismografo, the highly influential and authoritative blog which is published by anonymous members of the Secretary of State Department at the Vatican. While there is much speculation contain in the three page  article at the Libero, the substance of the news is simply and only that: a voluntary resignation for reasons of health on his 85th birthday.

Rumors have flown this way and that in recent days, here in Italy, as to whether Bergoglio has cancer of the colon, has had part of one of his feet amputated, or is dying of the effects of the Vaxx.

Above is a photo of the front page of the Libero newspaper.

If Bergoglio resigns, and the Cardinals call a Conclave, the confusion in the vatican might multiply from 2 to 3 claimants to the Papacy, like in 1046. The only thing I can say is God help us!

The Libero article, seen above, says, “might resign”, and the report from il Sismografo says that Bergoglio has expressed “a desire” to resign.  So the news is not as bright or dark, as it may seem.

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Pope Francis is ready to resign “because of health, not age”

The Vatican grapevine says: “A conclave is in the air”

By Antonio Socci

First published at Libero

23 August 2021

In the Vatican there is ever-more-insistent talk of a new conclave. Pope Francis is said to have revealed that he intends to resign. This coming December, among other things, he will turn 85, the age that Benedict XVI was when he resigned. But the reason for Bergoglio’s resignation would not be so much age as the state of his health, which came into the spotlight in a sudden and unforeseen way with the surgery he underwent on 4 July at Gemelli Hospital [in Rome]. Actually, it is said that it was not a planned procedure (it is said that even the Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin did not know about the hospitalization). Furthermore, it seems that the doctors at Gemelli wanted to keep the Pope in the hospital longer. For the media and the Vatican, the topic of the pope’s health has always been problematic. Among those criticizing the official Vatican communication in this affair was above all the website Il Sismografo which is always defined as “paravatican” because of its close ties to the Secretariat of State (it is definitely based on Bergoglian positions).


Already on 6 July, the director of Il Sismografo, Luis Badilla, wrote, “The information that one decides to amplify by means of the press must be extremely transparent and extremely authoritative. If one is talking about medical updates, the text must carry the signature of the doctor or the medical team, giving their full names; if several days of hospitalization are anticipated after colon surgery, clinical support must be given for such an affirmation. Journalists exist in order to ask questions and seek the greatest possible truth, not to simply act as microphone stands; otherwise, the real facts cannot be distinguished from journalistic hypotheses.”

The next day, in an article titled “Pope Francis does not need flattery in the press,” Badilla rejoiced at the good progress made by the Holy Father, but he added: “There is, however, a very significant detail that during these hours many people are underestimating, ignoring, or manipulating: the disease that has struck Pope Francis is severe and degenerative. It could also be chronic. Of course, the Holy Father will return to the Vatican to resume his journey in the footsteps of Peter, but he will never be the same again. All of the rhetoric about Jorge Mario Bergoglio as a superman damages his image and his charisma… He knows that he will have to greatly change his life: fatigue, rest, limits, nutrition, physical rehabilitative therapy.”

A month after the operation, Badilla noted that the press releases “on the health of the Pontiff” have always been issued by the Vatican Press Office and “they have never been signed by the doctors and by the Gemelli Clinic,” adding that “there remain some open questions that it has never been possible to the doctors who care for the Pope’s health, above all about the prognosis, which – although it is a question that is never addressed – remains confidential.” Many questions, about which the website Infovaticana published an article titled “The health of the Pope is not what they are saying.” The possibility that it may be health problems (which we all hope are not serious) leading the pope to consider resigning is more than probable.


Over the years, Pope Bergoglio has spoken several times in interviews about his possible resignation, but always as a hypothesis about a far-off future. Today it seems that it has become a present hypothesis. The first one to speak about “the air of a conclave” was a long-time Vatican journalist like Sandro Magister, who on 13 July titled his article on his widely followed blog as follows: “Conclave in View, Everyone Backing Away From Francis.” He did not focus on the pope’s health, although he was writing shortly after the operation, but rather he examined two “twin books” that just came out: La Chiesa Brucia [The Church is Burning] and Il Gregge Smarrito [The Lost Flock]. “Both books,” Magister noted, diagnose a poor state of health for the Church, with a marked deterioration during the present pontificate.” But “the books’ authors are not at all opponents of Pope Francis,” the Vaticanist added.

The first book was written by Andrea Riccardi, a Church historian and the founder of the Saint Egidio Community. The Pope listens closely to Riccardi, and often receives him in private audience. The Pope entrusted him – among other things – with the direction of the spectacular inter-religious summit presided over by Francis himself last 20 October [2020] in the Piazza del Campidoglio.

The second book was written by a brand-new association called “Essere Qui [Be Here]” led by 89-year-old Giuseppe De Rita, the founder of Censis [an economic research foundation] and “the dean of Italian sociologists,” as well as a progressive Catholic intellectual of the Montinian era. Already in the preceding weeks, strong criticism had come against Pope Bergoglio from the progressive-Catholic world due to some of his recent decisions. This gives the feeling that we are at the end of a season.

In his article, however, Magister, emphasized the repositioning that is currently under way, not only by Bergoglian intellectuals (to whom we could also add the media) but also by cardinals considered to be the closest ones to Francis: “The time has come to take distance from the reigning pope, if you aim to succeed him.” In fact, the general situation of the Church, which is dramatic, could also be driving the decision to resign: it is enough to recall the conflicts with the German and American episcopates (the two nations that give the most donations to the Vatican), the bleak statistics on religious practice and vocations in the past few years, the confusion that is spreading among the faithful concerning a hierarchy that seems too different with respect to the clear and authoritative Magisterium of the preceding popes; then there are the scandals, the dead end of the reform of the Curia, the trial currently underway in the Vatican, the doctrinal controversies…


 However – for a pope who has always been extremely active like Bergoglio – the problem of health has a huge impact. One week after the surgery, a long article was published in the Argentine daily La Nacion, which is close to the pope, about “the difficult questions raised by Francis’s advanced age.” The subtitle of the article explained that, after the surgery, there began to be talk of a possible resignation. According to the Argentine daily, “Vatican observers” believe “unanimously that Francis is not close to resigning,” but – we observe – this also happened on the eve of the resignation of Benedict XVI. “I can’t imagine Francis resigning as long as Benedict is still alive,” said Christopher Bellitto, a papal historian at Kean University in Union, New Jersey. “Having a pope emeritus already creates confusion. Having two would end up complicating the picture.” However, this question is beginning to be addressed in a “scientific” manner by canonists and theologians who seem to be preparing the ground for official provisions of the Holy See to precisely define the case record relative to the Petrine ministry after Benedict XVI resigned and called himself “pope emeritus” (an entirely new expression in the history of the Church).

The canonist Geraldina Boni has just published “a proposal of law, which is the fruit of collaboration [of experts] in canonical science, on the totally impeded Roman See and the resignation of the Pope” so that “the supreme legislator may draw out reasoned and well-argued ideas for the promulgation of legislation on these issues: norms that now seem urgent and cannot be postponed.” Why such an urgency after eight years in which the problem of the co-existence of two popes seemed to be ignored by everyone? Is it perhaps because there is a new conclave in the air? La Nacion, after having assured that Pope Francis is well and that he is not on the point of resigning, reports the thoughts of Alberto Melloni, a Church historian who is an intellectual symbol of progressive Catholicism. According to Melloni, the pontificate of Pope Francis has entered the final chapter: “When a pope gets old, we enter unknown and uncertain territory.” This does not mean, in his opinion, that Pope Bergoglio is necessarily on the eve of his resignation, but that popes now will no longer want to wait for a very advanced age and a state of poor health before resigning. According to Melloni, who sees the risk of the Vatican bureaucracy taking over, “if a pope wants to resign, he must find the right moment, before his weakness becomes too apparent.” And Francis, in the last few weeks, half-serious and half-joking, said to someone that next spring there could be a new pope.

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