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by Anura Guruge   


Errors in books about popes


Before you come after me with a pitchfork (or worse) PLEASE read my apologia and rationale for doing this.

I also want to start by pointing out ERRORS in my first papal book. << please click here >>

Also the errors in my "The Next Pope" book.
<< please click here >>

I also want to point out, as ever, that I may be wrong. That happens, since I flirt with fallibility on a daily basis. So PLEASE don't take any of what I list here as absolute without doing YOUR own research. If I am wrong PLEASE let me know. I will fix the mistakes and own up to my errors. This is also but a partial list.


The books currently included:


1. 'The Next Pope' by Peter Hebblethwaite

2. 'Lives of Popes' by Richard P. McBrien

3. 'Behind Locked Doors, A History of Papal Elections'
    by Frederic J. Baumgartner

4. 'The Conclave' by Michael Walsh

5. 'Heirs of the Fisherman' by John-Peter Pham

6. 'Oxford Dictionary of Popes' by J. N. D. Kelly

7. 'Conclave' by John L. Allen, Jr.

8. 'The Deaths of the Popes' by Wendy J. Reardon

9. 'Murder in the Vatican' by Lucien Gregoire

10. 'The Making of the Pope 2005' by Andrew M. Greeley

1. 'The Next Pope' by Peter Hebblethwaite
    (revised and edited by Margaret Hebblethwaite)
    ISBN: 0-06-063777-3, 2000

Page 4: "Moreover, conclaves did not happen in the Sistine Chapel until after the collapse of the Papal States in 1870."

Ah! I have tried to parse that statements all which ways until Christmas to see if I was missing something here. But, I am sure it says what it says!

Yes, the 1846, 1831, 1829 & 1823 conclaves were held at the Quirinal Palace and the 1800 conclave in Venice.  But the prior 38 conclaves, going back to 1484, were centered around the Sistine. During the first twelve of these, 1484 to 1559, all the cardinals were even billeted inside the Sistine. Thus, in my opinion, that statement is dead wrong.

Page 27: "In the first millennium, popes did not emerge from the college of cardinals, since the cardinals in the modern sense did not exist."

Ah! Well YOU could play games with the caveat 'modern sense,' and say that the 'College' didn't come to be until 1148-1150. But even with that, the spirit of this sentence is SO WRONG. Let us just refer to the 769 Roman Synod convened by Stephen III (IV) and its stipulation that popes must be elected from among cardinal priests and cardinal deacons.

Page 165: "... William Wakefield Baum ..., he is the only U.S. cardinal to have ever voted in a conclave -- in fact two -- having become a cardinal in 1976."

That 'ever' in front of 'voted' makes this statement false as it stands. If the caveat 'living' is added after the 'only' this would work (given that this book was published in 2000). The way it reads is misleading and wrong. James Gibbons voted in the 1903 conclave. John Murphy Farley voted in the 1914 conclave etc. Eight US cardinals participated in the August 1978 conclave and nine in the October 1978 conclave. This should have been caught by an editor. But maybe this book was not edited. That would explain all these fundamental errors.

Page 139: "And after all, the pope lives in Italy ..."

This is is post-1929. The pope lives in the sovereign city-state of Vatican City -- with even Castel Gandolfo falling within the extraterritorial bounds of the Vatican City. This was obviously meant to be a 'cute' statement, but it is inappropriate, misleading and worst of all, wrong.

Page 57: Talking about the voting process says "... the whole process is repeated ..."

Not so. The second ballot of each morning and afternoon session is different from the first. For a start there is no need to elect new Scrutineers, Infirmarii and Revisers, or to take a new oath.

Page 32: There is a poem here by the Polish poet Juliusz Slowacki, prefaced by a claim that it forecasts that there would be a Slavic pope [i.e., John Paul II] in the 20th century.

I think it is more than a stretch to make that claim. It sure says, in the first line "... will not -- Italian-like -- take fright." Yes, the poet was Polish. But that doesn't mean that any non-Italian has to be Slavic. This one is not as grave as the prior two, but it still gave me pause.

2. 'Lives of Popes' by Richard P. McBrien
    ISBN: 0-06-087807-X, 1997

Page 140: Heading that goes: '106 Hadrian [Adrian] II, 792-867, pope from December 14, 867, to December 14, 872

The '792-867' notation that follows the name. McBrien is not consistent with how this field is used, but given the '792' it must in this instance refer to the popes lifespan -- given that he was indeed born in 792. But, he did not die in 867. That was the year he became pope -- as the rest of the notation shows. So that '867' is not right. This error was pointed out by Bruce Colleti. Thank you Bruce.
[While entering  this I also noticed that McBrien has December 14, 872 as the end date for the pope -- December 14 also being when he became pope. I like such coincidences, so I double checked. Appears to be another error! There is doubt as to exactly when he died. The next pope, John VIII was elected December 14, 872 -- after an unspecified sede vacante. It doesn't appear that he was elected the same day that Hadrian died. So that December 14, 872 is wrong too.]

Page 453: <Longest Pontificates> #10 Sylvester I is given as 20 years, and 11 months.

Typo. The dates are right and you can clearly see that it should be 21 years, and 11 months. But that messes up the table. Sylvester needs to go up #8. Leo the Great becomes #9 etc.

I have others issues with this book. But I will bide my time on that. On page 2 there is a mention as to how much the author relied on J.N.D. Kelly's 'Oxford Dictionary of Popes.' As an author myself I know how reliant you can be on reference books like that. But there is reliance and there is .... If a student did this, he would get thrown out! That can wait.

3. 'Behind Locked Doors, A History of Papal Elections'  by Frederic J. Baumgartner
    ISBN: 1-4039-6962-0, 2003

This was one of my favorite papal books. I liked it so much I have 3 copies so that one is always at hand. I have also had the honor of exchanging a few emails with Prof. Baumgartner. Of late I have become quite perturbed by the number of errors I have found in this book -- many of them quite serious.

Page 7: 12th line from bottom. 'In 401 Innocent I succeeded his father Anastasius I, ...'

Not so. A historic misconception but by the 20th century it was known to have been a reference to a spiritual 'father-son' relationship, as opposed to a blood connection. Professor Baumgartner should not have propagated this. < Kind of ironic. Way back, c. 2005, when I first started researching papal history I saw this claim and e-mailed Professor Baumgartner if he had any concrete proof of this. He told me that he was sure that he had, but couldn't find it right away and that if he found it he would let me know. SMILE. It is OK! >

Page 22: The first sentence of the last paragraph that talks about Stephen III's 769 decree ...

This is a garbled, confused sentence at best. In the end it really falls down flat. Contrary to the claim, there is nothing similar, whatsoever, between the 769 and 1059 edicts. The statement about limiting candidates to the cardinal bishops ... is, alack, wrong. Not limited.

Page 34: About 2/3 down. "... senior cardinal-deacon gave him his name, ..."

Professor Baumgartner might have been having an off-day when he wrote this page (and I know how that goes). This statement about the protodeacon appears to be a 'mind-warp' -- but I could be wrong. As we all know, the protodeacon still has the HONOR of announcing to the world, for the first time, who the new pope is and the name by which he wishes to be known. But, other than that ... the protodeacon, nor anybody else for that matter, ever had the prerogative to tell a new pope as to what name he could assume. So, I can't figure out this statement.

Page 34: Towards the very bottom. "... delegated them to choose Pope Honorius III, ..."

Lets get the easy part out of the way. No, the committee of two was NOT delegated to choose 'Honorius III' as is stated! The committee of two was delegated to choose the next pope and they chose Cardinal Cencio Savelli who opted to be Honorius III. There is a difference. The description of this whole election in Perugia is jumbled and badly portrayed. Yes, there were only two cardinals in Perugia when Innocent III died. The book implies that the other cardinals, NOT in Perugia, delegated those two to choose the next pope. That does not appear to be what really happened. Fifteen other cardinals were in Perugia two days later to begin the election. That is not adequately portrayed, thus creating the wrong impression.

Page 37: Middle of the first paragraph. "... eleven had been identified as favoring the emperor, ..."

There was no emperor at that time! The Viterbo election/conclave being discussed happened during the 62 year interregnum following Emperor Frederick II's death in 1250. At this point there wasn't even a presumptive emperor, the last of Frederick's line, from the Hohenstauffens dynasty having been recently killed -- as stated earlier in that paragraph.

Page 40: 9th line. "... and after five days ..."

NO! After eight days (on the ninth day of the conclave). Read Ubi periculum. Three days of standard fare. Then five days of one dish per meal. THEN the bread, water and a little wine diet. Three and five = eight. This is careless.

Page 41: 2nd line, 2nd full paragraph. "... found themselves confined in conclave."

Nope. There was no conclave at this election, Ubi periculum having been suspended -- as spelled out in the previous paragraph! Oops.

Page 42: 9th line down. "... who met in the palace of Santa Sabina, ..."

Oops. A mix up with two elections hence. This one was in Viterbo, again. It was held at the Papal Palace. Not in Santa Sabina. Santa Sabina was never the site for a papal election or conclave, though the the professor thinks otherwise -- twice. See page 43 below.

Page 42: 7 lines up in main para. "A month after his election ..."

The Sicilian uprising (a.k.a Sicilian Vespers) took place in March 28, 1282. Martin IV was elected Feb. 22, 1281. That is ONE YEAR, ONE MONTH ... not one month. That is two bloopers in one paragraph. 

Page 43: 1st line in 1st full para. "... took place again in Santa Sabina."

Wrong! Two errors in one sentence. Previous one was not held in Santa Sabina, nor was this one. In reality NO papal election (or conclave) has ever been held in Santa Sabina. In this case, the election was held in the deceased pope's new palace, Corte Savella, which was NEAR Santa Sabina. Near ... doesn't mean 'in.' Not sure what the professor was thinking or doing.

Page 43: 2nd line, last para. "... appointed only one cardinal, Benedetto Caetani, ..."

Wrong! Another 'twofer' -- two errors in one sentence. The second 'twofer' on the page. Benedetto Caetani was created by Martin IV in April 1281. He took part in the election of Nicholas IV. Nicholas IV created six cardinals. Three lines later he talks about the two Colonna cardinals. Nicholas created one of them.

Page 60: 3rd line from bottom. "... the day after Urban's death."

Urban VI died October 15, 1389. His successor Boniface IX was installed November 2, 1389. If the conclave started October 16, per the author, this would have been a 18 day conclave. Most agree that it was not that long. Others, going by Dr. Francis A. Burkle-Young's "Passing the Keys," put the start date for this conclave at October 25 ... i.e., consistent with the ten day lead time mandated by Ubi periculum. That makes it a 8 day conclave. That makes more sense.

Page 71: Middle of page. "Ten days later, on April 4, 1454 ..."

April 4, 1455. This is a typo. My heart bleeds. I do this all the time. But, nonetheless, it is wrong.

Page 71: Middle of page. "... serve as the site for all but six conclaves to the present."

Talking as of '1454' which is mentioned at the start of this sentence. But from ALL that I can see, there have only been FIVE (5) conclaves outside of the Vatican as of 1454 -- not six, viz. 1799-1800 Venice and four at the Quirinal, 1823 to 1846. Note, that this is another TWOFER. There was no conclave in 1454. 1455.

Page 140: 13th line from bottom. "... took the name Leo XI to honor Leo X, his great-uncle."

WRONG. Maternal uncle, not great-uncle. < This error was carried over to my pope names book. >

Page 210: 6th line from bottom. "... became a priest under Pius X."

NO he didn't. He became a priest 20 years prior to Pius X! This erroneous statement screwed up some of my work. Now that I realize how inaccurate this book is, regret ever reading it -- which is a shame because it was a good read.

Page 218: last sentence of the 2nd paragraph that starts: "They were an international group ..."

The claim that this consistory [i.e., December 15, 1958] created the first cardinals from Mexico, the Philippines and Japan is WRONG. The first from Japan and the Philippines came two consistories later in March 1960. Same is true for the first native African cardinal. So three of the four claims made in that sentence are wrong.

Page 224: 5th line of the 1st paragraph that says: "... camerlengo, the first non-Italian to hold the office ..."

Not so! Way back, c. 1155, we had an English camerlengo, Boso Breakspear who is believed to have been related to the pope of the same last name, Hadrian IV (#170, 1154-1159). Here is the entry in the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia for Boso that clearly states he was camerlengo. So this is another major faux pas.

There are others. They can wait. I just don't have the time to document them all in one go. SORRY.

4. 'The Conclave' by Michael Walsh
    ISBN: 1-58051-135-X, 2003

[As a fellow Brit, I have a soft spot for Mr. Walsh. There is something about his writing style. He appears to be more liberated than most in how he expresses things. I am in awe. I think I have most of his books. ]

Page 81: Just over 1/2 way down. "... they were deliberating for seventy days."

Make that 64.

A few more like this. I really should document them all. It is just a question of time. SORRY.

5. 'Heirs of the Fisherman' by John-Peter Pham
    ISBN: 0-19-530561-2, 2004

Page 4: "... John Paul II named 233 cardinals ..."

This one I will confess really has to do with semantic along the lines of Bill Clinton's infamous parsing of what is meant by the word 'is' in different tenses. John Paul II CREATED 231 cardinals plus one in pectore. But the in pectore, by definition, was named and as thus cannot be included in the tally.

John Paul identified two prelates who died before they could attend the the consistories that would create them. So that is two more ... which would give us Dr. Pham's 233. But, here is the twist. One, Father Hans Urs von Balthasar, died two days before the June 28, 1988 consistory that would have created him a cardinal deacon. That he was to be created a cardinal on that day had been announced a month earlier on May 29, 1988. So you can certainly count him as having been named ... though not created. The other to die was Archbishop Josip Uhac on January 18, 1998. He was to be created a cardinal at the February 21, 1998 consistory. But he died a few hours BEFORE the convocation of the consistory was announced. So in reality his name was not included in the announcement. So does that count as being named? That is why I how you treat this one depends so much on interpretation. Strictly speaking it probably should be 232. Dr. Pham should have stuck with cardinals created. That would have avoided this confusion.

Page 89: 3rd full paragraph. "... ritual formula "Extra omnes!" ("All out!")."

This sentence says "After the conclusion of the final hortatory discourse ...". This is, alack, wrong. Extra omnes is called out PRIOR to the final hortatory discourse. So there is a big difference. You can confirm that this is indeed in error, right within the book because Dr. Pham includes in his Appendix 2 the entire Universi Dominici Gregis Apostolic Constitution that stipulates all the norms for contemporary conclaves. So check page 211, paragraph 5. You will see Extra omnes. Then read on. You will see that the hortatory discourse takes place after Extra omnes has been called out.

6. 'Oxford Dictionary of Popes' by J. N. D. Kelly
    ISBN: 0-19-861433-0, 2005 (paperback)

[Another Brit, and this really is my favored 'bible' when it comes to popes. So I include this with much regret.]

Page 31: Towards the bottom "Felix II, ST (antipope 355-22 Nov. 365)"

That the antipope Felix had been mistaken with another Roman martyr of that name was confirmed c. 1930. In 1962 the antipope ceased to be referred to as a Saint. This dictionary was first published in 1986. So by then it was well understood that this antipope was not deemed a Saint.

<< Dec. 1, 2010: A 'Mark T.' informed me via e-mail that he has the latest 2010 issue, updated by Michael Walsh, and that this error has been FIXED. Yes, I had sent an e-mail to the publisher a couple of years ago. >>

7. 'Conclave' by John L. Allen, Jr.
    ISBN: 0-385-50453-5, 2002

Page 78: Last paragraph on that page. " ... proposed restricting the election to cardinals. The term ...'

The definition he then puts forward for cardinals ... i.e., clergy that have been transferred into Rome, is not right! Transfer of clergy into Rome, particularly around that time, was rare. Cardinals, in those days, referred to any of the clergy associated with tituli churches and deaconries in Rome. I have a very long discussion of this in 'The Next Pope.'

There are more, but I just haven't had the time to document them here. SORRY.

8. 'The Deaths of the Popes' by Wendy J. Reardon
    ISBN: 0-786-41527-4, 2004

Page 261 to 268: Appendix 2: Papal Deaths, Burial and Reburial Chart

There are quite a few errors as to where the popes are buried or reburied -- despite this being a book devoted to detailing this aspect of papacies. At a minimum the locations indicated for the burial or re-burial of the following popes are incorrect: Alexander I, Sixtus I, Eleutherius, Marcellus I, Eusebius, Miltiades, Zosimus, Vigilius, Martin I, Silvester II, Victor III, Honorius II, Clement VI, Pius II, Pius III, Urban VII, Paul V are Gregory XV.
I do have a spreadsheet with the exact discrepancies BUT I am not sure when I will get time to put that all in here.
In the interim please refer to this list, that I put together, for the most up to-date information of where the popes are buried < click here >.

St. Alexander I was NOT beheaded! That is a well known misidentification with another martyr of that name!

Clement I and Callistus I did not drown, as used to be thought.

Ordinals are missing against some of the early popes, e.g., Alexander, Sixtus, Calliustus etc.

9. 'Murder at the Vatican' by Lucien Gregoire
1-43-438722-4, 2008 [fourth edition]

[I include this ‘book’ on this page with considerable reluctance and reservations! I have major issues with the factual veracity of this ‘book.’ I am going to just highlight but a very few of the considerable, patently false factual faux pas in this ‘book.’ I am not even going to touch any of the subjective issues, such as this mind-warping claim on page 100: ‘Roncalli, to say the least, was an ultraconservative.’

By Roncalli, Lucien is referring to Pope John XXIII (#262), the so called ‘Good Pope John,’ who convened Vatican II. If Roncalli was an ultraconservative, then US President Ronald Regan must have been a socialist! I fear that including this ‘book’ in this list will give it vicarious credibility – which, in my opinion, it does not deserve. My gripe is with the factual errors. Given the nature, scope and volume of these, I, for one, refuse to take anything else from this ‘book’ seriously. So I have no opinion on anything he says, because, alas and alack, he has, in my eyes, blown his credibility. But, that is my own opinion. You can form your own.] 

Page 109: 3rd line. ‘This is why after a candidate achieves the minimum margin of victory, a revote is taken to make it unanimous; Christ has spoken, so to speak.’

WRONG. Not so. The need to elect popes unanimously went by the boards c. 1059. The two-thirds majority for papal elections was established in 1179. Not unanimous. Two-thirds (and sometimes, plus one). The August 1978 conclave that elected John Paul I (#264), the subject of Lucien’s ‘book,’ was conducted per Paul VI’s (#263) 1975 Romano Pontifici Eligendo Apostolic Constitution. If the voting process was followed (as opposed to acclamation), then Clause #72 applies. That says, unequivocally, ‘if however the result is that someone has obtained two thirds of the votes plus one, the canonically valid election of the Roman Pontiff has taken place.’ No mention of requiring a revote to ensure unanimity. As far as I can tell, Pius XII (#261) in 1939, is one of the few popes in many a century to be elected unanimously. John XIII, John Paul I, John Paul II (#265) nor Benedict XVI (#266) were elected unanimously. The stuff about ‘Christ has spoken ...’ is but an unmitigated insult to the reader! 

Page 109: 4th and 5th paragraphs. ‘Historically, ..secretary of state position or the primary pastoral Italian archdioceses of Milan and Venice. With the exception of John Paul II, all twentieth century popes have come out of these positions. This includes Pius X, Benedict XV, ...’

WRONG. Benedict XV was the Archbishop of Bologna. He was never associated with Milan or Venice, and he was never the Secretary of State. He had been under secretary of State, but even that was 7 years prior to him being elected. And he was made under secretary by Leo XIII (#257) rather than his immediate predecessor Pius X (#258).

Page 112: 6th line. ‘He arranged a closed election for the new position among the conclave cardinals ...’

WRONG AND WRONG. John Paul II, per se, did not arrange any such election. Per Paul VI’s 1965 motu proprio, Sacro Cardinalium Consilio, the Dean and Sub-Dean had to elected by election, whenever these posts became vacant. So this election was per the norms. Not something arranged by John Paul II. Moreover, ONLY the cardinal bishops can participate in such elections. So the claim that it was meant to be a full-scale, dress-rehearsal for the next conclave, involving ALL the ‘conclave cardinals’ is poppycock. 

Page 112: 6th line again. ‘In November 1998, ... elevated this position .... giving it broad doctoral powers.’

WRONG and what the heck is he talking about. There were no changes made to the position of the Dean in 1998. Nada. Plus, ‘broad DOCTORAL powers.’ Doctoral? No new powers were given. So this whole thing is moot. But, I think he meant doctrinal. Laugh. 

Page 119: 9 from bottom. ‘In the two week period between a pope’s funeral and the next conclave, most of the cardinals are sequestered together in the Vatican.’

WRONG, WRONG and WRONG. The ‘lead time’ to a conclave (in 1978 as it is now) is 15 full days, rather than two weeks and starts from the occurrence of the sede vacante rather than the pope’s funeral. The funeral typically occurs 6 days after a pope’s death. So the conclave starts 9-10 days after the funeral. The cardinal electors are by NO means sequestered together in the Vatican! That is poppycock. Prior to the conclave many make a point of staying outside of the Vatican. Those that don’t have apartments in Rome or have friends that do, typically stay at one of the ‘national’ or Religious Order colleges in Rome. Cardinal Albino Luciani, prior to the 1978 conclave that elected him John Paul I, stayed at the Augustinian College. Not the Vatican and they are definitely NOT sequestered. 

Page 110: Last paragraph. ‘Shortly after his election ... ... Never before in the history of the Church or since, has a newly appointed pontiff held a consistory so soon after his election.’

WRONG. John held his first consistory 48 days after being elected. Gregory XV (#235) held his, to create his nephew, 6 days after his election. Clement XII (#247) held his 33 days into his pontificate while Innocent XIII (#245) held his 39 days later. So this statement is FALSE.

Page 120: 12th line. ‘Three cardinals ... count the ballots in a private room.’

WRONG. He is talking about the Scrutineers. Clause #71 of the 1975 Romano Pontifici Eligendo Apostolic Constitution says very clearly: ‘The Scrutineers sit at a table placed in front of the altar.’ The prior clause talks about ‘full views.’ This stuff about the ballots being counted in a private room is bunkum.

Page 120. 16th line. ‘According to Canon Law, the actual count of each ballot is not announced to the conclave.’

WRONG. The 1918 Code of Canon Law that applied to this 1978 conclave does not, anywhere, say this. Per conclave norms, and as specified in Clause #71 of Romano Pontifici Eligendo the name on each ballot is called out as are the tallies obtained by each of those that received a vote. See page 121 error below.

Page 120: 2nd line from bottom. ‘John Paul made the conclave rules in 1995.’

Universi Dominici Gregis was published on February 22, 1996. Not 1995.

Page 121: 11th line. ‘He lifted the secrecy of the vote. ... will announce the name of the cardinal he votes for.’

This is fiction. Secrecy of the vote is still sacrosanct. The cardinals do not publicly announce who they voted for when they deposit their ballot. This is ludicrous. Beyond the pale.

There are many, many MORE factual errors. I just don't want to list them all. I don't want to devote anymore time or space to this 'book.'

10. 'The Making of the Pope 2005' by Andrew M. Greeley
0-316-32560-0, 2005

I read Father Greeley's 1978 counterpart to this book twice, and have referred to it so many times that the binding cracked -- and I am very careful and gentle with all books. There is a 27 year gap between the two books, and, alas, that the author was not the sprightly 50 year old as he was in 1978 comes across loud and clear.

In 1978, Fr. Greeley, with his job description that asked for a pope that could smile and his computer-based predictions, was very much a part of the sede vacante scene in Rome. He was very engaged and in the thick of things with active contacts in the curia and the Vatican. This time around, age 77, he wasn’t there from ‘the start,’ was on the periphery once he got to Rome and relied on others for any ‘insights’ he received. Last time around he created credible hypothetical tableaux, all in italics for easy differentiation, of what could be happening behind the scenes. None of that this time around. The 1978 book was compelling at multiple levels. The 2005 book is rather repetitious, with multiple length screeds on Fr. Greeley’s opinions on the Church, Vatican II and prelates. The problem is that there isn’t enough local color from Rome, once he got there five days after John Paul II’s (#265) death.

As ever, I am just going to focus on factual errors. You definitely get the feeling that he has never bothered to study John Paul II’s 1996 Universi Dominici Gregis (UDG) Apostolic Constitution that governed this sede vacante and the conclave. Given that he planned to write a book about this papal transition since (at least) 2003 that seems a bit remiss. He also seems to not be that au fait with the 1983 Code of Canon law. Right through the book, without exception, he uses the terminology ‘Sacred College of Cardinals’ – sometimes just ‘Sacred College.’ Since the 1983 Code the word ‘Sacred’ is no longer used. Check the Vatican Web site. Sometimes, given his reputation for mercuriality, one wonders whether, as the true Irishman he prides himself of, he is taking ‘the mickey.’ He also uses the English ‘Charles’ when referring to the prior pope’s first name – as opposed to the very familiar ‘Karol.’

Page 23: 6 lines from the bottom. ‘There are two “scrutinies” each day ... and two ballots in each scrutiny.’

Since the Father also prides himself of his grounding in Latin, this is a bit surprising. A ‘scrutiny’ is EACH ballot – the ‘examination’ of the vote. This is what Clause 66 of Universi Dominici Gregis actually says: ‘66. The second phase, the scrutiny proper, comprises: 1) the placing of the ballots in the appropriate receptacle; 2) the mixing and counting of the ballots; 3) the opening of the votes.’ So it is clear, a scrutiny is a single round of voting. Not a big deal, but this misunderstanding trips him up later on, on page 170.

Page 23: 1st sentence in last paragraph. ‘The cardinals may go into conclave fifteen days after the death of the Pope and must begin after twenty days.’

Somebody unfamiliar with conclave protocols could quite correctly interpret this as meaning that the cardinals may go into conclave and then at their whim spend 5 days playing tiddlywinks before they start voting. That is not the case. What UDG states is that 15 days after the death of the pope, or no later the 20th, the cardinal electors must meet in conclave. The father does perpetuate an error in UDG. In clause #49 the start of the conclave is counted as of the ‘death of the pope.’ In other clauses, the start is counted as of the start of the sede vacante given that this Apostolic Constitution does acknowledge that a sede vacante may occur because of a valid resignation of a pope. Refer to my inconsistencies in UDG.

Page 23: 21nd sentence in last paragraph. ‘They enter late afternoon and begin voting the next morning, ...’

WRONG. He contradicts himself on this very statement on Page 170 ... where there is another mistake ... as listed below. There can be, and in 2005 there was, one round of balloting on that first evening. Fr. Greeley’s statement applied to pre-UDG conclaves such as the two in 1978. You would think that somebody would have helped him proof read this book. as of the start of the sede vacante given that this Apostolic Constitution does acknowledge that a sede vacante may occur because of a valid resignation of a pope.

Page 170 (related to above): 19 lines down. ‘There will be one “scrutiny (which means two ballots), one burst of black some, and then they will return to St. Martha’s ...’

WRONG. That he didn’t remember writing that voting starts the next day on page 23 (above) is sad. But, this statement is also wrong. Yes, there is ONE scrutiny. One ballot. Not two. The preemptive assumption that a pope will not be elected in that first ballot is naughty. Unlikely, but could happen.

Page 188: 8 lines down. ‘... to elect Cardinal Ratzinger last night by acclamation and that it failed.’

WRONG. This what convinced me that Fr. Greeley was all at sea when it came to UDG which is rather bad since he sets out to pose as an expert on conclave lore. John Paul II EXPLICITLY banned election by acclamation in UDG. It was one of the major changes wrought by UDG. The banning of election by acclamation is spelled out not once, but TWICE, para. 12 of the Preamble and Clause #62 – which ironically is the first clause in the section ‘The Election Procedure.’ Embarrassing that he didn’t know this and point it out.

Page 190: Middle of the page. The Habemus Papam! words in Latin.

Those were NOT the exact words intoned by Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, in 2005! Here is a real video of the 2005 Habemus Papam announcement. Listen to the Latin words.

Here are the ACTUAL words. Check the difference, in particular the absence of the ‘Dominum, Dominum’. I guess Fr. Greeley has a problem referring to cardinals as ‘Lord’.

Page 190: Middle of the page. Benedicti!

He did this in his 1978 book too and that was even worse since he totally missed John Paul I’s HISTORIC use of the ordinal ‘I’ in his name. He tries to make out that the ordinal is NOT specified. Not so. Please listen to the video referred above. That it is Benedicti 16 is clearly audible. He makes out that he was actually there. Well, then, get it RIGHT.

Page 199: 2nd line in para that begins the 2nd section. “ ... at the Mass that officially ended the conclave.”

WRONG. Again total unfamiliarity with the laws. UDG Clause #91: ‘The conclave ends immediately after the new Supreme Pontiff assents to his election, unless he should determine otherwise.’ In this instance, though the pope and all the cardinals again retired back to the Domus for a night together, it was OUTSIDE of conclave. The Vatican Press Office even put out a directive that said: "The conclave having ended, the Holy Father Benedict XVI has decided to eat this evening with all the other cardinals in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he will also spend the night.” So to imply that the conclave was still ongoing was WRONG and shabby.

This is all I have the energy and time to document. So just be on your guard as you read this book.


That is all for now. This not something I plan to do on a regular basis. It will be ad hoc as time and mood permits. I am busy writing more books so as to give others a fair crack at finding errors in my writing -- as there is bound to be.

All the best.


Grace, and peace be with you.




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