A Vatican conspiracy persists, and a bigger mystery unfolds

Pope Francis embraces Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI before opening the Holy Door to mark opening of the Catholic Holy Year, or Jubilee, in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican(RNS) The Vatican has always been a hothouse for conspiracy theories, and a new controversy over the so-called Third Secret of Fatima is showing just how persistent such fixations can be — to the extent that the latest episode even forced Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI out of seclusion to refute claims that he once shaded the truth about the mysterious prophecy.

At the same time, however, the new Fatima saga has overshadowed what could be a much more problematic bit of Vatican intrigue: how Benedict’s presence as the first ex-pope in more than six centuries is continuing to raise questions about the nature of the papacy, and the authority of Francis, the current pope.

So far, most of the media attention has been focused on the three Fatima “secrets” that the Catholic Church believes were vouchsafed by the Virgin Mary to three shepherd children in Portuguese town of Fatima in 1917.  Continue reading…

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