Plot to assassinate pope brushed off by Vatican

Offhand comments or signals of strife inside the Vatican, either way a cardinal’s claim the pope will be “dead within 12 months” are echoing around the world today.

An Italian newspaper reported of a plot to kill Pope Benedict XVI that proves the Holy Father is battling with the Vatican’s second most senior official, Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, The Guardian reported.

During a trip to China last year, Cardinal Paolo Romeo told Italian executives and church officials of the plot. The message was relayed back to the Vatican, which considered the threats serious enough to open an investigation.

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Colombian Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos delivered details of the “mordkomplott,” or death plot in German, to Bertone and the pope’s private secretary.

“This seems something so far from reality and not serious that I don’t want to even comment,” Vatican representative Federico Lombardi told the paper that broke the story, il Fatto Quotidiano.

Romeo denied having said anything about the plot, The Telegraph said.

“It is so outside of reality that it should not be given any consideration,” Romeo told ANSA, according to The Telegraph.

The report, however, contained specific details that led some to believe its authenticity. Romeo is alleged to have said Pope Benedict wants to replace his secretary of state with Cardinal Angelo Scola, a man with similar beliefs and outlook to the pope's.

The newspaper stands behind its story, the Daily Mail said. While the Vatican denied the plot, it said the ensuing report published by il Fatto Quotidiano was authentic.

“We are happy the report is a genuine Vatican document and that the details are accurate as we reported them,” deputy editor Marco Travaglio told the Daily Mail. “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.”

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