“Anonimi della Croce” has ceased operations. If you try to access the site, you find nothing. Not even the archives.
That was it, then.
I do not give much credence to the idea that this was a “fake news” site, in the same way as I tend not to give credence to unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. I have read several of their articles in their (and mine) mother tongue: they were well written – in a colloquial, emotional style – and made a very good argument against Francis and for the Church. It seems absurd to me that people who spoke with such obvious zeal for the Church would do that because they bat for Francis. It would be as if the “Pravda” had started to publish the entire collection of speeches of Ronald Reagan before trying to let you believe that he is, say, corrupt. It does not work that way: when the argument of your enemy is presented too well, it will work against you. If, therefore, these people had the intention to sell us a lie by giving us robust doses of truth first, they are stupid indeed. People don’t stop believing in truth because a site turns out to be fake.
Of course I wasn’t there, and of course we will probably never know the truth. What I think more likely happened is that a couple of priests with a good ear inside the things of the Vatican started to post on things they could not substantiate, and had uncritically collected from everyone willing to plant a rumour around. This can’t end well, because a bit of life experience tells us that most rumours are just that.
Then there’s the thing with “anonymity”, which might also have been the undoing of the two (I think) blog authors.
If you publish a post saying what you were told in a certain Roman cafe’ you are not really anonymous: your source knows who you are. And even if you have willingly given fantasy details about the place to protect your anonymity, if your information is detailed your informant will have no big trouble to trace you anyway. This kind of anonymity never goes on for long. Let’s say a prelate has five possible suspects of being “Fra Cristoforo”. The only thing he will have to do is to spread five different rumours to them, and those who publish on the blog are the anonymous bloggers. It really is a game with very short legs.
It can be that the two (I think) priests have been found and silenced. It can be that they have (wisely) recognised that publishing anonymous letters does not prove anything. It can even be – though I do not think it likely – that these are two people who are on the side of Francis and have been so stupid to attract a couple hundred thousand visitors a month with beautiful arguments against him.
The site is now gone. It was, in the end, a big soap bubble.
Beware of anonymous great revelations.
I visited the “Anonimi della Croce” site in order to see whether the famous letter showing that Benedict resigned because of external pressures was published.
Actually, it was, and on Good Friday already. The post is here. I will translate the important part below.
However, be informed from the start that there are a couple of big caveats:
- The letter is also anonymous. This means that the one who wrote the letter is not known. The letter could be, simply put, a fake.
- Benedict is the recipient, not the author, of the letter. Not to put too fine a point on it, I could write to any of my readers a letter stating “I know how hard it is to live with the terrible burden of having committed adultery”. This would not prove that you have committed adultery. I could then extract this letter from my sleeve at any time. Again, it would prove nothing.
The important part of the letter is this:
Il Suo pensiero di dimissione dal Suo stato deriva sicuramente da un grave conflitto interiore, dovuto ai motivi e alle pressioni che mi ha elencato. So per certo che in altre condizioni, Sua Santità non avrebbe mai pensato minimamente ad avanzare un gesto simile. Ma di certo, questo momento per la Chiesa di Cristo è da considerarsi terribile. E Lei Santità ne è il Capo. E solo Lei sa di cosa oggi la Chiesa ha bisogno.
Your thoughts about abandoning your state certainly derives from a grave interior conflict, due to the motives and the pressures you have listed. I know for certain that in a different situation, Your Holiness would never have thought of making such a gesture. However, it is certain that the actual situation of Christ’s Church must be considered terrible. And you, Holiness, are Her head. And only you know what the Church needs today.
There is a (paper) bomb hidden in these words: “the pressures you have listed”. The Italian “pressioni” leaves little doubt that this is not a generic indication of “pressing needs”, but rather directly refers to the pressure exerted on someone to move him to do something. There might also be several of those, and there are certainly a minimum of two, as allegedly Benedict “lists” a series of “motives and pressures”.
So, the famous letter was published.
However, in my opinion the letter does not prove much.
Firstly, the writer might have misunderstood Benedict.
Secondly, any priest worth his salt would never say to a Pope revealing to him that he is being blackmailed into resigning “only you know what the Church needs today”. He would actually say, no matter what the extent of the pressure is: “it would be gravely sinful, irrespective of the state of the Church, to yield to blackmail”.
Thirdly, Benedict has very officially stated that he has resigned out of his own free will and without external pressure, and I still trust the old man more than an anonymous letter.
Fourthly, if Benedict had mentioned “pressures” in the sense of “blackmail” it is likely that his “pen friend” would have used the word “ricatti”. You exert pressure on someone to make him do something, but this is clearly short of blackmailing. The teacher exerts pressure on his student, making clear to him that he either applies himself more or will sit the year. Ivanka Trump exerts pressure on her father to make him bomb a Syrian airport. The act of exerting pressure is strong, but not necessarily immoral and generally not criminal. The act of blackmail is fundamentally different, and is described with a different word. This letter is also confidential. Therefore, the writer would not hesitate to write “ricatti” (the plural of “blackmail”) if he thought this is what is in play.
What this most probably looks like is that several people were telling Benedict that the Church needs a strong man, and he – as he himself stated publicly – does not want to end up like JP II. And the man, weak and meek (in the bad sense) as he has been his entire life, has felt the burden of being put “under pressure” to resign. Which makes his decision, in this hypothesis, entirely his anyway; because he was the Pope, not a child of three.
If we were to know the author and circumstances of the letter, and the author ‘s relationship with Benedict, we could make a better assessment. But as it is, this seems hardly a smoking gun.
More a chocolate one.