Saturday 10 December 2016

Brothers in arms: how Benedict is helping Francis fight intrigue in the Vatican

Michael Kelly

Published 02/07/2016 | 02:30

Pope Francis and retired Pope Benedict XVI embrace during a
ceremony to celebrate the 65th anniversary of Pope Benedict’s ordination as a priest, in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican this week. Photo: AP
Pope Francis and retired Pope Benedict XVI embrace during a ceremony to celebrate the 65th anniversary of Pope Benedict’s ordination as a priest, in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican this week. Photo: AP

To the casual observer, Pope Francis's recent admission that he believes retired Pope Benedict XVI "had my back" over the past three years may seem like nothing more than a polite hat-tip to his predecessor. But the remark actually reveals a deep undercurrent of resistance to reform that Benedict's steady presence in a small residence in the Vatican gardens is helping the Argentine Pope overcome.

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It's not by accident that when Francis gives public addresses, he reserves his sharpest criticism for Vatican officials. While the overwhelming majority of people who work in the Church's central administration are dedicated and hard-working officials, there has long been a hard-core element machinating against reform, often for alleged financial gain.

It has long been a staple of the Italian press to report on controversial allegations emanating from the Holy See - whether it has been links to the Sicilian Mafia or Masonic bodies, there has been plenty of smoke.

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