Sunday, 17 April. This afternoon I took a room at Casa Santa Marta. Setting down my bags, I tried to open the shades, as the room was dark, but it was impossible. One of my brothers had the same problem, and asked for help from the sisters in charge. He thought it was a technical problem. The sisters explained that the blinds had been sealed shut. Seclusion of the Conclave….A new experience for nearly all of us: out of 115 cardinals, only two had previously participated in the election of a pope....
With these words begin the “secret diary” of the conclave that led to the election of Benedict XVI on 19 April 2005 - the confidential, hand-written notes of an anonymous cardinal upon returning to his room after voting in the Sistine Chapel, reports Vatican Insider in La Stampa.
This remarkable document, published in the journal Limes, allows a step-by-step reconstruction of the balloting process, raising the veil of secrecy that, by the will of the Popes, has always covered the conclave. From the cardinal’s notes obtained by the journal, we learn first of all that Ratzinger’s candidacy was extremely strong from the beginning.
The 78-year-old Bavarian cardinal was the only candidate who could count on the dedicated support of a well-organized group, disproving speculation that Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, contemporary of the new Pope and ex-archbishop of Milan, played a crucial role in the election of Benedict XVI.
And consequently, the notes confirm the story published in the Milan daily newspaper Il Giornale the day after the conclave: the only real rival to Ratzinger who could count on a consistent number of votes - up to 40 - was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the Argentine Jesuit Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
But let’s go by degrees and reconstruct, step-by-step, the timeline of events that took place in the secrecy of the Sistine Chapel in the twenty-four hours starting the afternoon of Monday, April 18, 2005.
FULL STORY The secret diary of the most recent conclave (Vatican Insider)