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And now that we have familiarized ourselves with the back-story of Bergoglio and his Team, it is only fitting to re-publish the Sandro Magister post pertaining to what is becoming known as the Kolvenbach file. (see here)
I would also like to draw your attention to a post that appeared on this blog titled El Papa Loco? This post should be read to provide added CONTEXT to the below.
I will offer two comments. It is now becoming quite clear that Francis is losing the conservative and neo-con catholics.
Lastly, notice the “hand of fate” that always helped Bergoglio advance or overcome whatever issues that he might have had with this co-religionists. I have emphasised this point. What is the case, is that Bergoglio’s populism was “instrumental”. Notice how he played off the “pueblo” against the hierarchy. But the “mystery” “power players” have never been identified. Got to wonder what “secret societies” lurk behind that hand of fate? To this day, this is the Bergoglio approach and a part of his support network.
The Bergoglio Mystery. Why the General of the Jesuits Didn’t Want Him Made Bishop
A new book about Pope Francis is on the way, one that has already been making a stir, even before its scheduled release on February 26:
The title sounds decidedly critical. But not from prejudice. The author of the book, Philip Lawler, is one of the most authoritative and balanced Catholic writers in the United States. He was editor of “Catholic World Report,” the news magazine of Ignatius Press, the publishing house founded by the Jesuit Joseph Fessio, a disciple of Joseph Ratzinger. And today he directs “Catholic World News.” He was born and raised in Boston. He is married and the father of seven children.
In the initial phase of Francis’s pontificate, Lawler did not fail to appreciate its novelties. But now, as it turns out, he has come to see in him the “lost shepherd” of a flock sent out to wander.
And he has developed this critical judgment on Jorge Mario Bergogio as pope in part through a careful reexamination of Bergoglio as a Jesuit and bishop in Argentina.
Which is exactly what has been done by other biographers of the current pope, both for and against him: to reconstruct his Argentine journey, in order to obtain from this a better understanding of his activity as pope.
One striking example of this revisitation of Bergoglio’s Argentine phase is in the most recently published book about him: “The Dictator Pope,” released as an e-book in Italian and in English at the end of last autumn by an anonymous author, likely a native English speaker, who conceals himself under the pseudonym of Marcantonio Colonna.
One of the passages of “The Dictator Pope” that has raised the biggest uproar is the one in which the author lifts the veil on the judgment on Bergoglio written in 1991 by the superior general of the Society of Jesus, Peter Hans Kolvenbach (1928-2016) of the Netherlands, in the course of the secret consultations for and against the appointment of Bergoglio as auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires.
The pseudonymous Marcantonio Colonna writes:
“The text of the report has never been made public, but the following account is given by a priest who had access to it before it disappeared from the Jesuit archive: Father Kolvenbach accused Bergoglio of a series of defects, ranging from habitual use of vulgar language to deviousness, disobedience concealed under a mask of humility, and lack of psychological balance; with a view to his suitability as a future bishop, the report pointed out that he had been a divisive figure as Provincial of his own order.”
Too little and too vague. Beyond doubt, however, is the existence of a judgment on Bergoglio that the Vatican authorities requested from Kolvenbach in view of his appointment as bishop.
Just as beyond doubt is the severe friction that existed between the ordinary Jesuit at the time and his superiors of the Society of Jesus, both in Argentina and in Rome.
Abundant, solid, and concurrent information on this friction is provided by other biographies of Bergoglio, not suspect of preconceived hostilities, because they were written by authors very close to him or were even reviewed by him in the course of their composition.
This latter is the case, in particular, with the volume “Aquel Francisco,” written by the Argentines Javier Cámara and Sebastián Pfaffen with the pope’s supervision, dedicated precisely to the years of Bergoglio’s greatest isolation within the society of Jesus.
It does not cover up the fact that Jesuits who were opposed to him went so far as to circulate the rumor that Bergoglio had been sent into exile in Córdoba “because he was sick, crazy.”
But it is completely silent on the judgment against his appointment as bishop written by Jesuit general Kolvenbach, whose name does not appear even once in the more than 300 pages of the book.
Nor is there any news of the Kolvenbach report in what is so far the most exhaustive and “friendly” biography of Bergoglio, written by Austen Ivereigh of England:
But on the origin and context of that negative judgment of Kolvenbach, the information given by Ivereigh/Bergoglio is extensive and valuable. And it deserves to be reprised here.
Bergoglio himself referred to this friction with his Argentine confreres in the interview he granted to “La Civiltà Cattolica” and to other magazines of the Society of Jesus shortly after his election as pope:
“My authoritarian and quick manner of making decisions led me to have serious problems and to be accused of being ultraconservative. But I have never been a right-winger.”
In Argentina, in effect, the campaign against Bergoglio was led by the Jesuits of the Center for Research and Social Action, CIAS, made up “mostly,” Ivereigh notes, of “older, academic, upper-class” progressives irritated over the success of this Jesuit “from a lower-middle-class background, and not even a doctorate in theology,” who “privileged popular religiosity while neglecting the research centers”: a type of religiosity “very close to the people, to the poor,” but in their judgment “more Peronist than modern.”
It was not enough to placate them that Bergoglio, in 1979, ended his term as provincial of the Argentine Jesuits. His leadership over a substantial portion of the Society was by no means diminished. On the contrary, Ivereigh writes, “he had more influence by the end of his time of rector than he had had as a provincial.”
But precisely for this reason his opponents became more and more antagonistic. The criticisms of the CIAS and of others made their way to Rome, to the curia generalizia of the Society of Jesus, where the assistant for Latin America, José Fernández Castañeda, was also hostile to Bergoglio, and evidently they convinced the new superior general, Kolvenbach. Who in fact, in 1986, at the time of choosing the new head of the Argentine province, appointed none other than the candidate of the CIAS, Víctor Zorzín, who immediately took as his right-hand man “one of Bergoglio’s fiercest critics,” Ignacio García-Mata, who succeeded him.
After this came a purge that Ivereigh compares with the “clash between the Peronists and anti-Peronists” of Argentina in the 1950’s, with the difference that now “the ‘gorilas’ [fanatical anti-Peronists] were in the CIAS, and the ‘pueblo’ was with Bergoglio and the others.” In short: “a cleansing, in which everything associated with the deposed regime was reversed.”
And Bergoglio? In May of that same year of 1986, in agreement with the new provincial, Zorzín, he migrated to Germany, officially for a doctorate on Romano Guardini. But in December of the same year he was already on his way back home, to the rejoicing of his still numerous followers. Who in fact succeeded in electing none other than him as procurator of the Argentine province for a summit at the curia generalizia of Rome in September of 1987.
The next year it was Kolvenbach who went to Argentina, for a meeting with the provincials of the continent. But he avoided meeting Bergoglio, in spite of the fact that he was staying very near by. Ivereigh writes: “Over the next two years, the province increasingly polarized and turned in on itself” and Bergoglio “was increasingly blamed for stirring this up.” He cites the minutes of the meetings of the provincial consultors: “In every one of them we spoke about him. It was a constant worry, what we were going to do with this man.”
In 1990 they exiled Bergoglio to Córdoba, no longer with any position, and they sent his closest confreres abroad. But soon after came the miracle. The archbishop of Buenos Aires, Antonio Quarracino, asked Rome for none other than Bergoglio as his auxiliary bishop. And he got him.
Ivereigh does not mention this. But it is here, in the secret consultations that precede the appointment of every new bishop, that Jesuit superior general Kolvenbach set down in writing his negative judgment on the appointment of Bergoglio. He was not heeded. But there is one episode immediately after the consecration of Bergoglio as bishop, in the summer of 1992, that shows how bitter the discord between the two remains.
While waiting for his new residence to be prepared, Bergoglio was accommodated at the house of the Jesuit curia of Buenos Aires, where in the meantime his archenemy García-Mata had become provincial.
“But it wasn’t an easy relationship. Bergoglio blamed García-Mata for defaming him in a report the provincial had written to Rome – the report was secret, but one of the consultors had informed Bergoglio – while García-Mata felt threatened by Bergoglio’s popularity among the younger Jesuits.”
The weeks went by and Bergoglio was for García-Mata an ever more “interfering” presence. Until on July 31, the feast of Saint Ignatius, the provincial hinted that he should leave. “But I’m very comfortable here,” Bergoglio answered.
“If he wanted him out, said Bergoglio, he should inform him formally. So García-Mata wrote to Father Kolvenbach, who backed the provincial, who left the general’s letter in Bergoglio’s room. García-Mata received a written response in return, in which Bergoglio gave the date of his departure.”
Against this background one can understand why from them on, during his many trips to Rome, Bergoglio never set foot in the curia generalizia of the Jesuits, staying instead at the clerical residence on Via della Scrofa, nor did he ever speak with Kolvenbach.
In order to be reconciled with the Society of Jesus, in short, the first Jesuit pope in history had to do nothing less than precisely that, be elected pope.
But today we know about the preceding conflict almost exclusively from his point of view, mediated by his biographer friends.
The point of view of the others, starting with the judgment of his general from a quarter of a century ago, is still to a large extent unknown to us.
(English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.)