Cardinal Re: "Paul VI. Had Prepared Two Letters of Resignation"
Cardinal Re and Cardinal Sodano (right) -- Today Deacon and Subdeacon of the Cardinal Collegium -- Immediately After Pope Benedict's Resignation
(Rome) Had Pope Paul VI. already prepared for resignation? This is what Giovanni Battista Cardinal Re claimed in a long interview with the magazine Araberara, which was released yesterday.
The former prefect of the Congregation for the Bishops and the present Subdeacon of the Cardinal Collegium tells of "his" six popes, revealing a hitherto unknown detail.
Pope Paul VI, who ruled from 1963, died on 6 August 1978 of a heart attack. According to his closest collaborators, the abduction of his personal friend, the Italian Prime Minister and Christian Democrat politician Aldo Moro by the Communist Red Brigades (BR) had crushed him. The Pope had publicly offered himself to the terrorists as a hostage in exchange for Moro, but he was found murdered in a car on 9 May 1978.
Cardinal Re now revealed that Paul VI. had written two letters of resignation. The Cardinal does not make any connections. It is, however, to be assumed that they are directly related to the abduction of Moro and his readiness to be held hostage. Cardinal Re seems to be less concerned with the historical context, but with the current reference to a resignation of the Pope, which has been a subject of controversy since the unexpected resignation of Benedict XVI.
"At that time," said the Cardinal, church law did not foresee an apostate in the office of the Church, with the exception of the fact that the Cardinal's collegium assented to this. For this reason, Paul VI. wrote a letter of resignation, and sent a second letter to the Cardinal Dean, asking him to convince the Cardinal's collegium of the necessity releasing him from the Office.
Cardinal Re knew of these letters "because Pope John Paul II showed them to me."
The cardinal subdeacon confirmed in the interview also a grueling stalemate, which was given in the two conclaves of the year 1978. Cardinal Secretary of State Giovanni Benelli and Cardinal Giuseppe Siri of Genoa were opposed to each other as opponents. Since neither Benelli nor Siri received sufficient votes to create the breakthrough, Patriarch Albino Luciani (John Paul I) and then the Archbishop of Krakow Karol Wojtyla (John Paul II) were elected as pope.
John Paul I said Cardinal Re: "He wanted to meet me and told me that he thought the papacy was too great a burden."
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Photo: Vatican.va (screenshot)