Pope could be the victim of assassination plot within a year, claims senior Vatican cardinal
Cardinal Paolo Romeo said to have revealed details on a visit to China
Another cardinal then submitted a top-secret report to the Vatican Secretary of State
Plot ‘beyond realms of reality’ says Vatican spokesman
By Nick Pisa
Last updated at 7:48 PM on 10th February 2012
A senior Vatican cardinal has sensationally claimed Pope Benedict XVI could be ‘the victim of an assassination plot’ within the next 12 months, it emerged today.
Cardinal Paolo Romeo is said to have revealed the details while on a visit to China and that another cardinal who was told of the comments, then submitted a top secret report to the Vatican Secretary of State.
The plot, which could come straight out of a Dan Brown-style thriller, was revealed in Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano today.
Cardinal Romeo, who is Archbishop of Palermo, is said to have made the claims during his visit to China last November where he met with Italian businessmen and local Catholic Church officials.
The Catholic Church is not officially recognised in China and relations between the two are strained but in November, Pope Benedict did grant approval for the ordination of a new bishop which was accepted by the Bejing government.
Il Fatto claimed that Cardinal Romeo told the businessmen that there was a ‘death plot’ against the Pope and that he would be ‘dead within twelve months’, the end of the year at the latest but it was not clear where he had obtained the information.
His comments were then relayed back to another cardinal in Rome, Colombian-born Dario Castrillon who wrote up the report and submitted to the Secretary of State, cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
The newspaper claimed that the report was ‘translated into German’ so as to keep the sensationally revelations as quiet as possible within the Vatican but it was submitted to German born Pope Benedict XVI as well.
Cardinal Romeo, 73, has a long career as a Vatican diplomat and has worked in the Philippines, Belgium, Luxembourg, Venezuela and Rwanda and he was also the Vatican’s official ambassador to Italy between 2001 and 2006, when he was made a cardinal by Pope Benedict.
Il Fatto said that it had been leaked a copy of the report and that the German words for ‘death plot’ were in it and they added that they had verified it was original by the Vatican rubber stamps that were on the pages.
They also went on to detail how cardinal Romeo had even said that a successor for Pope Benedict was also being lined up and named him as cardinal Angelo Scola, the current archbishop of Milan.
Il Fatto added that cardinal Romeo had ‘seriously predicted a criminal plot against the pope and that he would be dead within twelve months’ and that the report had been written on New Year’s Eve and then passed to the Pope last month.
Il Fatto deputy editor Marco Travaglio said:’ We are happy the report is a genuine Vatican document and that the details are accurate as we reported them.
‘Obviously we hope that it is not true but the words death plot are clearly there in German and it was written in German so that only a handful of people within the Vatican knew the details.’
Today Vatican spokesman father Federico Lombardi tried to downplay the report saying that it seemed to him ,to be ‘’beyond the realms of reality and not even worth considering”‘.
In 1978 Pope John Paul I died after just 33 days in office and there have long been suggestions that he was poisoned by the Mafia after they discovered he was about to name senior Catholic church officials who were involved in money laundering for the Mob.
In 1981 late Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005, was the victim of an assassination attempt when Turkish hit man Mehmet Ali Agca fired at him from close range, as he greeted crowds in St Peter’s Square.
The Pope was rushed to hospital where he underwent life saving surgery and he went on to make a full recovery, putting his survival down to the intervention of the Virgin Mary and later one of the bullets removed during the operation was placed at a shrine to her in Fatima, Portugal.
In 1991 comedian Robbie Coltrane starred in a film called The Pope Must Die, in which he played a lowly priest who is mistakenly elected Pope and then has to avoid being assassinated by the Mafia.
CLUBBED, POISONED, STRANGLED: HOW POPES HAVE MET THEIR DEATHS
Over the years, many popes have met a grisly demise – by strangulation, poisoning, crucifixion, and even by being clubbed to death. Much of the bloodshed occurred during the Middle Ages. But as the death of John Paul I in 1978 shows – if conspiracy theories are to be believed – with great responsibility comes great danger…
St Peter (AD 64): Crucified.
John VIII (872-882): Allegedly poisoned and then clubbed to death.
Adrian III (884-885): Allegedly poisoned.
Stephen VI (896-897): Said to have been strangled.
Pope Benedict XI, who reigned in 1304-5, was allegedly poisoned
Leo V (903): Murdered.
John X (914-928): Allegedly suffocated under a pillow.
Stephen VII (928-931): Possibly murdered.
Stephen VIII (939-942): Mutilated and died from injuries.
John XII (955-964): Murdered by cuckolded husband.
Pope John VIII (872-882) is said to have poisoned and then clubbed to death; right, Stephen VI (896-897) is alleged to have been strangled
Benedict VI (973-974): Strangled by a priest.
John XIV (983-984): Starved to death or poisoned.
Gregory V (996-999): Said to have been poisoned but probably malaria.
Sergius IV (1009-1012): Possibly murdered.
Clement II (1046-1047): Rumored poisoned.
Damasus II (1048): Rumored murdered.
Boniface VIII (1294-1303): Died from abuse received while a captive of the French in Anagni.
Benedict XI (1304-1305): Allegedly poisoned.
John Paul I (1978): Allegedly poisoned.
In 1978, Pope John Paul I (left) died after just 33 days in office and there have long been suggestions that he was poisoned by the Mafia