Oct 022012

For other stories from this series refer to ‘Cardinal Stories‘ category from the sidebar (>>>) … scroll down, quite a bit.

Cardinal Siri from the ‘Cardinal Siri & the plot against the pope’ website. Click to access.

Prior posts re. the once perennial papabile Cardinal Siri:
‘Siri’ Resurrected As New Voice Assistant On Apple’s New iPhone — Oct. 5, 2011.

‘The Pope In Red’
Website for those that want to learn more about the ‘Siri thesis‘ in that he was elected pope in 1958.

Giuseppe Siri was born in Genoa (Italy) on May 20, 1906. His father was a stevedore at the famous port. After minor and major seminary in Genoa starting in October 1916 (when he would have been 10 years old), he following in the footsteps of those destined for the higher reaches of the Church entered the Pontifical Gregorian University (Rome) in 1926, graduating in 1929 with a doctorate summa cum laude in theology. He was ordained, September 22, 1928 (aged 22) in Genoa. He returned to Genoa and combined an academic career with some pastoral work. In March 1944 Pius XII (#261) made him Auxiliary of Genoa with a titular bishopric. He has claimed that he was a member of the Italian resistance during WW II and is said to have negotitated with Nazi troops.

He became the Archbishop of Genoa in May 1946 — 6 days prior to his 40th birthday. He was created a cardinal priest on January 1953. He, at 46, was the youngest cardinal of that time.

Siri was a noted conservative. Come the October 1958 conclave Siri, then all of 52, was one of the two conservative favorites, the older Alfredo Ottaviani the other. The popular choice was Montini (the future Paul VI (#263)) but he was not a cardinal (having declined to be created by Pius) — and it is well known that Siri broke his cardinal’s ring by smashing his hand on the table when the possibility of electing Montini was discussed at a pre-conclave General Congregation; his gripe, not so much the competition or resentment, but that doing so would violate tradition.

He, per his conservative credentials, was not a fan of Vatican II, though he was on its board of Presidency.

When the thorny topic of the “Church in today’s world” was being discussed he stated: “The church must not neglect her own problems in favor of the world”.

His final take on the Council, rather presciently in terms of what has unfolded, was: “They will never bind us”.

  3 Responses to “Cardinal Stories. Cardinal Giuseppe Siri.”

  1. No doubt that good old Cardinal Siri was on one hand an ‘archconservative’s archconservative’ , mainly characterised by his adamant traditional positioning against every kind of aggiornamento, on the other hand he seemed to be gifted with a wide range of pastoral talents and a quite highly developed social commitment.
    Looking up the weblink concerning his alleged election to the papacy in 1958 I have my serious doubts that such a thing did really happen, the reasons for this are based on the following facts:

    1. Even if it is true that Siri was regarded as a kind of Pius XII´s dauphin and even if some cardinals were ready to take in consideration the possibility of regarding Siri a serious candidate for the papacy but there is also the quite known conclusion of such debates saying that ‘if we elect Siri instead of a Holy Father we will get an Eternal Father’. It is more than obvious that after two quite long pontificates most of the cardinals were not ready to elect such a young candidate who could have reigned about 30 years.

    2. Supposed that on October 26,1958 the mysterious election really did take place and Siri did consent to take over the papal functions it is quite odd and even contradictory to Siri’s own positions that he allegedly took as name ‘Gregory XVII’ (to me the connection with Gregory VII as a kind of justification of this choice seems somewhat odd) . During his whole lifetime as a bishop and a cardinal however Siri had been an ardent admirer of Pius XII; when in 1983 the Vatican organized a commemorational symposium for this pope the archbishop of Genoa was one of the keynote speakers. From this point of view it would have been more or less evident and even a natural consequence that Siri would have chosen as pontifical name ‘Pius XIII’ .

    3. Concerning the events during the conclave of 1958 there are some more contradictions in this fairy tale – while it is said that Siri was elected by a vast majority but finally had to draw back due to ‘pressure’ from his colleagues influenced by Freemasons and Communists he himself stated in his last interview with the Italian ‘vaticanista’ and long-term confidant Benny Lai that he did not accept to be cadidate in any of the conclaves he participated – the one in October 1958, in June 1963, then in August 1978 and finally in October 1978. He even admitted that due to certain developments in the society as well as in Roman Catholicism that retrospectively he would have his refusal to consider one of his greatest faults. Regarding all this Siri’s alleged ‘confession’ to the mentioned Vietnamese priest is null ad void and nothing else than a fabrication originating from the so called ‘Sedisvacantists’ who regard Pius XII as the last ‘canonical’ pope.

    4. However, it is right that Cardinal Siri became victim of mass media manipulation on the the conclave bgan in October 1978 when his prospects to become pope seemed to be as good as never before: In an interview published in a Genoese newspaper he allegedly denounced the reforms of Vatican II, especially the collegiality of the bishops and supported a strictly absolutistic concept of the papacy. This interview was published in due time so that the cardinals before entering the conclave could get the necessary informations on Siri’s thoughts. About twenty years after that two journalists admitted that they faked the entire interview because they wanted to avert Siri’s election which they considered disastrous for the Roman Catholic Church in general as well as for Italy in particular – they feared that the militant anti-communist Siri could contribute in quite a harmful way to the political tensions in Italy at that time.

  2. Thank YOU. You make some WONDERFUL observations. Much appreciated. I have written about the ‘Siri Thesis’ in my ‘The Next Pope’ book. I, like YOU, do NOT buy it — basically for the same reasons you cite in #3. To have selected the name, Gregory XVIII, he had to have first UTTERED ‘accepto’ — to the question as to whether he accepts his lawful election. There is no two ways about this. You can’t take a name UNTIL you have accepted that YOU are pope. So if he accepted he was POPE. No cardinal can pressurize him after that, and would NOT DARE. Take dear Luciani, in his excitement, saying: ‘John Paul Primo’. That was a mistake. BUT, nobody, but nobody at the conclave corrected him, and he was an approachable pope. Villot didn’t sidle up to him and say: ‘Luc, you didn’t mean ‘primo’ right … just John Paul‘. So, IF he was elected and took the name … the deed was done.
    Yes, this is a fairy tale.
    All the BEST. Thanks. Cheers.

  3. Whenever reading or hearing about the ‘Siri Thesis‘ there is just another aspect which amazes and amuses me – namely that there is no direct evidence originating from contemporary sources. We all know that despite the strict rules of a conclave and despite of all possible and consistently adapted provisions due to the technical developments in the course of the last 100 years thanks to indiscretions it was possible to get the one or the other basic information. This concerns for example the events accompanying Benedict XV´s election in 1914 when the future pope was elected by getting exactly two thirds of the votes so that before the result of the ballot could be declared valid the ballot papers had to be examined to make sure that the elect did not vote for himself. After Pius XII´s election there were widespread rumors that he was unanimously chosen so that of the 62 participating cardinals he allegedly got 61 votes. However one of the participants, the Frenchman Baudrillart (obviously not sympathizing with the newly elected) when being confronted with that, in an outburst came to say: ‘What a nonsense – Pacelli never got 61 votes, there were only 48 in his favour !’. After the 1963 conclave Cardinal Gustavo Testa, John XXIII´s old friend even publicly admitted that at a crucial point when some curialists tried to block Montini´s (the future Paul VI´s) election he rose to speak and admonished his colleagues to abstain from such indecent manoeuvres.
    And there have been also notes made the one or the other cardinal reporting the course of the election and the results of the votings – as far as I got to know there were made public correspondent notes taken during the conclaves of 1914, 1922, 1958, August 1978 and finally even of the 2005 election. Considering all this it ís more than strange that such an exceptional event as the election of a pope who within a few instants after having consented to this and after having chosen a name immediately was forced to ‘abdicate‘ nowhere would be mentioned. Even if it would have been dangerous to tell a long rigmarole concerning the possible events I am however convinced that at least some hints immediately after the conclave would have been spread but obviously the only ‘proofs‘ concerning a ‘Pope Giuseppe Siri‘ are the yet mentioned fairy tales dating from the time after Siri´s death in 1989 and a FBI-dossier of April 1961 which mentions Siri being elected pope on October 26,1958. As for this dossier one may not forget that it was written in the midst of the Cold War which means that the conclusions to be drawn from such a paper could have been quite useful – in particular regarding the fact that a Pope Siri was to be considered as an ally in the battle against Communism.

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