By CHRISTINA FARRELL
AN\ sarsymous Brazilian cardinal has claimed that Benedict XVI orchestrated his election as Pope with the backing of Opus Dei.
The revelations appear in an article written by journalist Gerson Camarotti and published earlier this month in the Brazilian paper 0 Globo.
Mr Camarotti, who claims it took eight months to set up the meeting with the mysterious informant, says that leading conservative cardinals met secretly in Rome to plan Benedict's rise through the ranks.
He also names Cardinals Alfonso Lopez Trujillo of Colombia, Jorge Medina Estevez of Chile and Christoph Schonborn of Austria, as among Cardinal Ratzinger's strongest supporters.
But only two of the cardinals that elected Benedict were Opus Dei men — Cardinal Julian Henanz and Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani — and seasoned Vatican watchers have dismissed the story.
Vatican expert John Allen, whose book on Opus Dei was a best-seller last year, insisted that all the evidence pointed to Cardinal Ratzinger seeking an early retirement and not the papacy.
Writing in his column in the National Catholic Reporter, he said: "Each of
the three most recent times his five-year appointment as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith expired, in 1991, 1996 and 2001, Ratzinger asked John Paul for permission to retire. Each time the Pope refused.
"Just before the conclave opened, a senior official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith told me Ratzinger had informed key aides that he hoped the new Pope would grant him a few more months on the job, and then he would step down.
"He wanted to return to Bavaria and resume writing on liturgy, ecclesiology and other subjects."
What is certain is that members of Opus Dei were delighted by the election of Cardinal Ratzinger who they saw as continuing the work of John Paul II, who, in 2002, had canonised the prelature's founder St Josemaria Escriva.
On hearing the news Bishop Javier Echevarria, prelate of Opus Dei, had expressed his "great joy for the entire Church".
"Catholics all over the world are giving thanks to God for the gift of a new Pope,' he said.
But John Allen wrote that while many Opus Dei members were no doubt delighted with Benedict's triumph, "to give them the credit (or blame, depending on one's point of view) overstates the case".