Austen Ivereigh presents his book to Pope Francis on Friday, November 21, 2014, at Santa Marta.
Rome, January 9, 2015: Following the publication of the summary of the case against “Team Bergoglio”, Dr. Austen Ivereigh has confirmed the substance and nature of the allegations against the alleged conspirators, in his January 7, 2015 response to Fr. Brennan, S. J., entitled, Setting the Record Straight on Pope Francis, a reply to Frank Brennan.
Fr. Brennan is a professor of law at the Australian Catholic University; he had attempted in his review of Ivereigh’s book to discount the probity of Ivereigh’s testimony.
In response, Dr. Austen Ivereigh, the former spokesman to Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor speaks directly of the charges Fr. Brennan makes against the accuracy of his report about the activities of “Team Bergoglio”, saying thus:
Regarding the conclave, Father Brennan is right to highlight the discrepancy between my account and the statement of Father Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, and I am grateful for this opportunity for further clarification.
While I did interview my old boss, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, for the book, I relied on a number of different accounts, some of which were off the record, as well as stitching together anecdotes from different places, which is standard practice for journalistic reconstructions of papal elections. The quotes I use from Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor are ones he has given in different interviews.
I made two mistakes in the phrasing of my account. One was to give the impression that the group of cardinals seeking Bergoglio’s election in some way secured his agreement before the conclave, which they never did; I meant only that they believed that this time he would not refuse. Immediately after that sentence, I wrote: “Asked if he was willing, he said that he believed that at this time of crisis for the church no cardinal could refuse if asked.” In fact, that exchange did not take place before the conclave, but during it.
The reason this matters is that conclave rules forbid the drawing up of pacts or agreements between cardinals. But they do not prevent cardinals urging each other to vote for particular candidates – that is how popes get made. When the four cardinals I cited said, through Father Lombardi, that there was no “campaign” to get Bergoglio elected, I assume they mean that there was no such agreement between them and him, and I have been happy to confirm that I never meant to suggest that there was. The issue has been dealt with well by John L. Allen, Jr, at Crux.
Father Brennan asks: “Why will the book still report that ‘Murphy-O’Connor knowingly warned Bergoglio to “be careful,” that it was his turn now, and was told: capisco, “I understand”‘?” Because that is what the cardinal said to Bergoglio before the conclave, and there was nothing wrong with it: such light-hearted yet pointed exchanges are normal in the pre-conclave discussions.
These clarifications notwithstanding, I am confident of the veracity of my account, and have heard nothing that contradicts it – although, as I say in the book, there is still much we are still to learn about that conclave.
It is noteworthy that Dr. Ivereigh does not deny explicitly that there was an effort to seek vote-promises, each of which are of themselves violations of UDG 81, and are penalized by excommunication both for the individual soliciting and the individual promising. Nor does he deny that the individuals he mentions played no role at all.
It is also important to note, that he understands Fr. Lombard’s Dec. 1, 2014 denial as a denial of an agreement between the 4 Cardinals (Murphy-O’Conner, Danneels, Lehman & Kasper) and Cardinal Bergoglio, but not that there was no agreement at all.
It is also important to note the indirect statements Dr. Ivereigh makes, “I am happy to report that…”, “The issue has been dealt with”. This final citation to John L. Allen’s report, in which Ivereigh sarcastically speculates about the non-meaning of the word “campaign”, seems to imply that he is deeply offended and disconcerted still about the direct imputation of mendacity against him by the alleged members of “Team Bergoglio”.
Finally, this recent “explanation”, while denying nothing substantial against the canonical charges which arise from the actions which he narrates in his book against those he alleges to be members of “Team Bergoglio”, is important for confirming that his source for his information was Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and another Cardinal, as yet unidentified, and that, given the published reports and interpretations of the From Rome blog, he states, “and I have heard nothing that contradicts” what he claims in his narrative.*
Perhaps it is no coincidence, then, that yesterday, January 8, 2015, Pope Francis received in audience one of the accused members, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois of Paris, and that this morning, he received in audience another member, Cardinal Godfried Danneels.
The chief “witness” to the facts of the case stands firm, the case, therefore, must move on to be judged!
* This, however, by no means indicates that Ivereigh is in favor of a canonical punishment of the alleged members.