Scola told his supporters, “Vote for Bergoglio”

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Scola told his supporters, “Vote for Bergoglio”

By Domenico Agasso/ lastampa.it

The supporters of the then-Argentinean archbishop defeated the rumors about his illness and alleged collusion with the dictatorship.

In the frenetic days after Benedict XVI's historic and shocking resignation, the predictions were in favor of an Italo-Brazilian duel between Cardinals Scola and Scherer. With the Archbishop of Milan favored for the succession to the Throne of Peter. But the result of the first Conclave vote told a different story: Joseph Ratzinger's Italian pupil received 30 votes, but not the forty that many expected; right behind him was Bergoglio, "the surprise", chosen by 26 cardinals. Third Marc Ouellet with 22. The Archbishop of São Paulo at 4. This meant first of all that the Italians were divided on their compatriot, and that, as Cardinal Oswald Gracias says, "the Holy Spirit was guiding us in a particular direction".

Gerard O'Connell, Vatican expert of America, the New York Jesuit magazine, author of an extraordinary 270-page work, “The Election of Pope Francis: An Inside Account of the Conclave That Changed History” (Orbis Books, 2019, in bookshops today), tells it all. Among other things, O'Connell also followed the 2013 Conclave for Vatican Insider, the portal of La Stampa, which has been quoted several times in the book.

Here is the outcome of the first secret ballot, on the evening of March 12, 2013: Angelo Scola 30, Jorge Mario Bergoglio 26, Marc Ouellet 22 (Canadian, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops), Sean Patrick O'Malley 10, Odilo Pedro Scherer 4. "That first vote might have given the impression of great uncertainty - O'Connell observes - but the electors saw it in a very different light". Nobody had reached two thirds of the majority, that is 77 preferences, and so the ballots were burned, as per tradition, while the black smoke arouse from the Vatican chimney. It looked like a two-way race: Scola-Bergoglio.
Now the Argentine had the support of Gracias, Walter Kasper, Laurent Monswengo Pasinya, Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, Jean-Louis Tauran, Peter Turkson.

March 13th. Morning. The 115 voters returned to the vote. Result: Bergoglio 45, Scola 38, Ouellet 24. It is overtaking. A third vote is needed, which will bring Bergoglio to 56 and Scola to 41. The second and third ballots "indicate the direction that the Conclave was taking", O'Connell points out: the cardinals were poised “to turn their sights across the Atlantic to elect the first pope from the New World”.

11:39 a.m.: black smoke coming out of the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. The cardinals returned to Casa Santa Marta, their residence during the off-limits assembly. But not all of them. Scola had remained behind with a group of Italian cardinals who were supporting him, including Angelo Bagnasco, Giuseppe Betori and Carlo Caffarra. The now former favourite "urged them to vote for Bergoglio, but they were not listening; they didn’t want him to throw in the towel just yet". Scola’s request would be one of the turning points.

In the meantime, the Cuban Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino asked Bergoglio for the text of the speech he had given a few days earlier. The Archbishop of Buenos Aires handed it over to him, and the Cuban remarked in an audible voice so that others heard, “Now I have a text from the new pope!”

The wind was blowing toward Buenos Aires. But the counteroffensive of those who didn’t want the Jesuit had also begun. News had started spreading that Bergoglio had only one lung. So, Maradiaga and Santos Abril y Castelló, started investigating the alleged health problems and asked Bergoglio directly. The Archbishop of Buenos Aires denied, telling them that "in 1957, when he was around twenty-one years of age, he underwent surgery that removed the upper lobe of his right lung where he had three cysts, but since then his lung has functioned without a problem”.

Another attempt to block his election: a cardinal went to Karl Lehmann, poisonously confirming an already known - yet denied - "black legend" about Bergoglio's past: he would have made an agreement with the military dictatorship of his country (1976-1983). Lehmann went to the Brazilian Hummes to find out more, receiving a lapidary reply: "It's all false!".

Nothing could have stopped stop the momentum. Bergoglio himself, during lunch, had realize it. But despite the pressure around him, anxiety didn’t take him. He was "at peace", and even managed to take his usual siesta.

The 115 "princes of the Church" returned to the Sistine Chapel, aware that they were very close to make an historical choice. They voted as follows: Bergoglio 67, Scola 32, Ouellet 13. But then there was a technical problem: there were 116 cards, for a cardinal had mistakenly inserted a white card in the urn. Therefore, the vote had to be re-run.

But by now "the will of the Holy Spirit" was clear.

During the fifth count, when for seventy-seven times the name "Bergoglio" was spelled out, "there was tremendous joy and enthusiasm".... as various cardinals later confirmed. A big applause broke out. Bergoglio 85, Scola 20, Ouellet 8 was the final result. Bergoglio got up, went to Scola and embraced him. The emotion was very strong. The new pope choose the name Francis.

The whole world had its eyes on its smallest State, unaware of what was happening there. Though the previous day vote hinted that there were chances the Pontiff might have “not been European" for the first time in history.

The "Habemus Papam" came after the white smoke. And on the loggia of St. Peter's Basilica stood an Argentinean.

Mon, 04/15/2019 - 08:35
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