Is there a plot to kill Pope Benedict XVI? That’s the question in Italy this week after the publication of a letter claiming that the Pope will be dead in the next 12 months. But observers of papal matters argue that there’s no such plot, and that the letter is in some way part of a complex internal Vatican power struggle.
Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano first published the anonymous letter (link is in Italian), dated from the end of December 2011, with claims that the letter was originally written in German and was delivered to a Vatican official. There have long been rumours that the Vatican is particularly riven by internal politics at present, although few observers had previously suggested that an assassination plot could be on the cards.
While destabilising the Vatican by plotting an assassination might seem a little unlikely, destabilising the Vatican by spreading rumours of an assassination plot might be a little more believable. Vatican sources have so far dismissed the letter, but sections of the Italian media have seized upon the story as one that will attract public attention. So if you find a dead Pope anywhere in the next 12 months, don’t say you weren’t warned!