Pope exposes confidential information from secret meetings of cardinals

Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI

Photo: Associated Press

Pope Francis has exposed the political "maneuvers" used to influence votes during the last two papal elections. He has denied that he is planning to reform the process of secret meetings for the election of the future pope. 

The revelations of confidential information are summarized in the book "The Successor: My Memories of Benedict XVI", where the Argentine pope reflects on his relationship with the late German pope.

The book, written in the form of a conversation with Spain's "ABC daily" correspondent Javier Martinez-Brocal, comes at a delicate time for the 87-year-old pope, AP wrote. His ill health has raised questions about how long he will remain pope, whether he will follow Benedict's steps in stepping down, and who might replace him. 

In the book, Pope Francis has revealed confidential details of the 2005 conclave that elected Benedict and the 2013 conclave that elected him, saying he was allowed to avoid the cardinals' oath of secrecy as pope. 

In 2005, as Francis has said, he was "used" by the cardinals who wanted to block Benedict's election and that they managed to influence 40 of the 115 votes. The idea was not to elect the Argentine, but to introduce a compromise candidate after Benedict's elimination from the race, he said. 

"They told me afterwards that they didn't want a 'foreign' pope - in other words, a non-Italian - added Francis, making it clear that the process was not strictly about cardinals being inspired by the Spirit Holy shit, it was more of a hard and cold political calculation. 

Pope Francis has further added that he has ended the maneuver by announcing that he would not agree to be elected pope, after which Benedict was elected. 

"He was the only one who could become pope at that moment", he emphasized, adding that he himself voted for Benedict. 

In 2013, after Benedict's resignation, there was again political maneuvering involved. Pope Francis has said he only realized it after cardinals were rallying behind him, teasing him with questions about the church in Latin America and hinting that he was gaining support. 

He has said he finally realized he could be elected pope when Spanish Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello came running after him on March 13, shortly before the final vote. 

The Spanish cardinal had a question about Francis' health ability to handle the papacy, as opponents appeared to have raised concerns about his health as a potential obstacle. 

"Dear, is it true that you don't have part of your lung?" Franciscus remembered Abril asking him, to which he replied that he had removed a part of one lung after a respiratory infection. After assuring him that the operation had taken place more than 50 years ago, he remembers Abril saying under his breath, "Oh, these last-minute maneuvers..."

Francis has denied rumors that he is planning any reform of the rules for the election of the next pope. 

While Pope Francis denied these reforms, he revealed that he was reviewing the protocol for papal funerals. He has declared that Benedict is the last "where the body of a pope is exposed in an open coffin". 

He has said that he wants to make sure that the pope "is buried the same as any son of the church", in a dignified but not exaggerated way.