On a day when everyone is recalling Pope Benedict XVI’s historic — and stunning — announcement last Feb. 11 that he intended to resign the papacy comes a fascinating revelation from the 2005 conclave that elected Benedict:

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who reportedly ran second to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in that conclave, later told a fellow cardinal that if he had been elected then he would have taken the name “John” after Pope John XXIII.

Instead, Bergoglio was elected in March of last year two weeks after Benedict resigned and became the first pope named after Francis of Assisi.

“Good Pope John,” as John XXIII is known, also stunned the church and the world by calling the Second Vatican Council that in the 1960s introduced numerous reforms and ushered Roman Catholicism into the modern world.

“John, I would have called myself John, like the Good Pope; I would have been completely inspired by him,” Bergoglio told Cardinal Francesco Marchisano, according to a new book by longtime Italian Vaticanista Gianluca Barile.

(“Giovanni, mi sarei chiamato Giovanni, come il Papa Buono, mi sarei ispirato completamente a lui.”)

The excerpt was highlighted by Marco Tosatti of La Stampa, an Italian daily.

In the 2005 conclave, Bergoglio reportedly received 40 votes after three rounds of balloting in the Sistine Chapel, second to Ratzinger who had 72, just six short of the two-thirds margin necessary for election. Apparently hoping to avoid prolonging the conclave and creating divisions, Bergoglio signaled his supporters not to back him. In the next round he dropped to 26 votes and Ratzinger was elected pope with 84 votes.

Eight years later, on March 13, the cardinals changed their minds and pushed Bergoglio over the top. But Bergoglio also changed his mind on what name he would take, and instead of becoming Pope John XXIV he became the first Pope Francis in history.

But Francis still frequently cites Pope John, an icon to progressive Catholics, and he will formally declare John XXIII a saint in April.


  1. Progressivism is not a good thing. Progress towards what? The state of the church since Pope John has been a disaster. If we do more of the same it is insanity. We need clear teaching on faith and morals. Not nuanced teaching, but outright clear teaching. As Pope Benedict said, “But some of those who put themselves forward as great defenders of the (Second Vatican) Council also need to be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.” This includes the teachings of Christ, Marriage is for life. No second or third marriages! How many more children’s lives will be ruined if we weaken this teaching on marriage? I will blame these 8 cardinals and the pope if they weaken this for destroying the families who struggle to stay together!

    • TAAD,

      Too many Catholics are getting divorced – indeed!
      You said, “Marriage is for life. No second or third marriages! How many more children’s lives will be ruined if we weaken this teaching on marriage?”

      Well….Atheist marriages last longer than religious marriages. Atheists rarely get divorced.

      Think of how many children would be saved if people just dumped religion?

      Hello? Hello?


        • Bee Bee,

          Why am I interested in Religion News?
          Because Religion IS the news:

          Bombings, Terrorism, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, The Pope, Creationism in schools, repression of women’s rights, Guns and Jesus, Koch Brothers funding Catholic Indoctrination, mass indoctrination in cult behavior and subversion of critical thinking skills, rejection of Science, Gay rights, pedophile priests..…

          Religion needs to be discussed, not just read about.
          And Atheists are at the forefront of that discussion.

        • Doug,
          I’m sure you won’t believe me. Evidence is not the strong suit of the religious.

          Google this: Atheist divorce rates.

          You will find many articles about the strength of Atheist marriages.
          I’m an example! 34 years this June! We raised 3 loving, happy, healthy atheist children.


          • Well, well, well. I can hardly believe it: a holier-than-thou atheist. Whatever next!

          • Edward,
            I’m a holier than thou atheist?
            The Catholic said we need an increase in religion to save marriage. I have all the evidence on my side that more religion does not result in more marriages being saved.
            If that makes me ‘holier’ (or just correct) then I’ll take the compliment and your endorsement of my position.

      • Well, AMax. I guess you’ve never heard of the Soviet Union. Very atheist and with a VERY high divorce rate. They were also the first government to promote abortion on demand. How many children would be saved… AMax?It’s Godless, narcissistic, atheism, that is the problem not religion.

        • I can’t find any statistics on atheist marriages in the Soviet Union.
          But obviously I don’t think marriage is sacred.

          For people to stay married because of invisible powers coming from invisible authority figures is a baseless, silly way to live.

          There are very good reasons to not stay married to a cruel or dangerous person. And some percentage of marriage should break up for that reason alone. When religion stands in the way of such divorce it does harm.

  2. Frankly I am not all that surprised by a possible John XXIV I thought some candidate would take that name instead of Francis like the Cardinal of Ghana Peter Thurston or the Cardinal of Honduras Oscar Rodríguez.

  3. It would have been heavenly if Jorge Bergoglio had been elected to replace John Paul II So far, it has been worth the eight-year wait to get him as a leader who seems to have full faith in the fathers of Vatican II and the People of God–unlike both John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

    John XXIV would have have been great, even now. Francis is even better. Best of all would be if the tradition of dropping ones baptismal and surname and choosing a pontificate name, usually one from a tradition, unlike Francis which is a first, would be to end the whole business of taking a new name and maintain one’s own baptismal name and surname.

    Francis would be just as great as Pope Jorge Bergolio, jthe same as presidents of the United States maintain their given names and surnames. After all, the reputation of the pontificate depends on the behavior of the pope, not on the name he assumes. Church history shows just as much evil as goodness from pope to pope. And there are different kinds of evil, some official, some personal, but all equally evil.

    Hans Kung who was so evilly relegated almost to excommunication by Ratzinger through John Paul and later by Benedict often referred to Benedict as Pope Ratzinger. Most religious orders have dropped the tradition of their members substituting saints’ names for their baptismal names when they join a community. That’s what popes should do also.

    • Unfortunately, when Francis canonizes John XXIII in April, he will be required by church politics to also canonize John Paul II. Popes are not the free agents most people think they are. Isn’t it obvious that the delay in John XXIII’s canonization forty-one years after his death has been muffled by pairing it with that of John Paul II less than ten years after his death? And John Paul II, like Benedict, spent his exceptionally long pontificate working to undo the declarations of Vatican II. Sadly, the church is as guilty of sneaky politics as Washington, DC, and other world capitals.

      • gilhan,

        “Sadly, the church is as guilty of sneaky politics as Washington, DC, and other world capitals.”

        As should be expected by any man-made, man-created, man-driven and man-operated institution. God’s presence has never been remotely evident. Even in the Church.

        • AMax how accurate your statistics are I don’t know but let’s take them at face value and say atheist marriages are lasting longer than Christian ones. Question is why? My guess those Christian marriages should not have been contracted in the first place due to some defect in understanding on the indissolubility etc. Why is this? Catechesis was obviously not up to scratch OR they chose to ignore and got married in Church for the wrong reasons. Either way the Church has a way of dealing with these issues it’s called Annulment … the marriage wasn’t valid in the first place.

          This brings us neatly to the marriage tribunals who investigate such cases. For decades they have worked too slow to help such people. The Pope told them get your act together and sort it out it’s not fair on them. Which Pope? Oh wait the evil Pope Benedict as modern media and perceptions would like to believe. Now Pope Francis is saying we need to dialogue to better help these people (a continuity).

          Also statistically speaking form an historical perspective the Encyclopedia of Wars demonstrates that religion has been the cause of 6% of wars in the world that leave a whopping 92% down to greed, political issues etc.

          And yes the Church (on Earth) is run by humans and humans make mistakes, but (religiously) speaking the Church is also guided by the Holy Spirit. For over 2,000 there have been turmoils in our ‘institution’ and they have been acknowledged but the course of teaching even through some of the depraved Popes in the middle ages, as been faithful to the Gospel. 2,000 years an institution mind-blowing something must be happening that is right.

          AMax I love dialogue and respect your position so let’s talk philosophy a second. Atheism by definition is what? In essence a rejection of any notion there is a God, higher power, Supreme Being, whatever anyone terms it. But you have to hold the initial notion to reject it?! So in essence Atheism believe God does not exist. Atheism is effectively a BELIEF just as religion is. So please prove to me God doesn’t exist as much as you want us to prove he does? We have writings, testimonies etc. spanning thousands of years of peoples expeirences of what we call ‘God’. But I believe that the response to this is ‘human testimony is flawed and can be twisted only scientific evidence will prove’. That’s just basic flawed logic as that means all human life experiences are flawed or invalid. Also science keeps disproving itself. Let’s also not forget that some of the greatest scientific discoveries were made by wait for it …. Catholics. In fact the Big Bang theory was first posited by Fr Georges Lemaitre. A monk discovered genetics (I can point you to some good resources if you’d like to see more). The world as a screwed up notion that Science and Religion are at opposites, but in Catholicism the two mutually enrich each other. And whilst the Gallileo inquisition is held up as an example otherwise we need to bear in mind the history. He was question on the grounds of heresy to do with the theory of heliocentrism (earth revolves around the sun). Heliocentrism was first presented a number of years earlier to Pope Paul III and the Roman curia by Fr. Nicolaus Copernicus who welcomed and rejoiced at the theory. Then lo and behold the Reformation happened and Protestantism called it heresy. Rome did not. Still reeling from the effects of the split within the Church an accusation was made that this was heresy as it went against the Bible etc. etc. It was being used as a wedge by the reformers. Even so Gallileo went to Pope Paul V who welcomed him with open arms and showed him his evidence with a telescope. Paul V, and the Jesuits rejoiced. The initial accuser was a fanatic and after Gallileo published his Letter on Solar Spots, said accuser launched an attack in a sermon based on the Book of Joshua where the sun and the sky stopped for a day. Had Gallileo ignored this he would have been safe under the protection of the Church. The Church protected scientists as long as they kept a separation between science and religion (theology) in their public works. The Church understood the importance of scientific development and encouraged it in Jesuit colleges. The Church also understood that it could shake the foundations of the wisdom at the time to the point of appearing to challenge the faith. Gallileo respond in his Letter to Castelli showing that his findings do not contradict Scripture and offered alternative ways of interpreting Scripture. The Church had just been through a major theological attack and hence the inquisition into Gallileo. Subsequently the Church has apologised for the history record.

          My belief tells me that the Church was founded by Jesus Christ based on testimony from that period. so it is God founded and inspiration comes from him, yet on Earth (the Church is more than just that on Earth) the Church has human leaders with limited capacity and yep sometimes they fail as well all do. But the message they preach is the ideal and they stand arms open wide to forgive when we err. And when I look up and follow events with my astrophysicist friends (some of whom are priests by the way). I thank God for his continuing work of creation as the universe expands.

          • WELSHDAVE,

            1. Evidence suggest Christianity poisons marriage which is why Atheist marriages tend to last longer. Muslim marriages last longest thanks to death threats for apostasy or heresy.
            2. I fully reject your claim that religion has played only a minor role in wars, your research is lazy.
            3. I reject your statement that Atheism is a religion.
            4. I reject the argument that if something lasts a long time it must have some truth to it.

            To elaborate:

            1. On marriage – I disagree with the premise that divorce is always a bad thing. Divorce is almost always the right thing to do. A man and a woman have enough problems without the baggage of a third party (an unknowable, imaginary God) interceding on sexual, emotional, mental health, and other problems.

            2. Wars rarely happen without religion. Consider the following conflicts where THE ONLY differences between the opposing factions were religion:

            • Albigensian Crusade, 1208-49
            • Algeria, 1992-
            • Baha’is, 1848-54
            • Bosnia, 1992-95
            • Boxer Rebellion, 1899-1901
            • Christian Romans, 30-313 CE
            • Croatia, 1991-92
            • English Civil War, 1642-46
            • Holocaust, 1938-45
            • Huguenot Wars, 1562-1598
            • India, 1992-2002
            • India: Suttee & Thugs
            • Indo-Pakistani Partition, 1947
            • Iran, Islamic Republic, 1979-
            • Iraq, Shiites, 1991-92
            • Jews, 1348
            • Jonestown, 1978
            • Lebanon 1860 / 1975-92
            • Molucca Is., 1999-
            • Mongolia, 1937-39
            • Northern Ireland, 1974-98
            • Russian pogroms 1905-06 / 1917-22
            • St. Bartholemew Massacre, 1572
            • Shang China, ca. 1300-1050 BCE
            • Shimabara Revolt, Japan 1637-38
            • Sikh uprising, India, 1984-91
            • Spanish Inquisition, 1478-1834
            • Taiping Rebellion, 1850-64
            • Thirty Years War, 1618-48
            • Tudor England
            • Vietnam, 1800s
            • Witch Hunts, 1400-1800
            • Xhosa, 1857
            • Arab Outbreak, 7th Century CE
            • Arab-Israeli Wars, 1948-
            • Al Qaeda, 1993-
            • Crusades, 1095-1291
            • Dutch Revolt, 1566-1609
            • Nigeria, 1990s, 2000s

            These Straw Men are NOT examples of Atheism:

            STALIN was a self-appointed intermediary (CZAR) between God and the religion of the state. He demanded FAITH in that religion including the miracles of Lysenko, or death.
            That is not Atheism – it is FAITH.

            Pol Pot was a Theravada Buddhist who ‘divined supernatural heaven’ of which he appointed himself leader and he demanded allegiance as self-appointed head of the religion of the state of Cambodia. He was against all education, history, technology and science. What Atheist ever did that?
            That is not Atheism – it is FAITH.

            ADOLPH Hitler and his SS were all confessing Catholics and Christians, hailed a faith in the Aryan Race divine by God’s judgement and demanded full faith in the religion of the state. “Gott Mit Uns” God With Us. Hatred of Jews was the prime motivator of the Nazis, founded in Lutheranism. AND Hitler’s favorite parable of the 12 Minas was a factor:
            “to those who do not want me to be their king – bring those enemies of mine, and EXECUTE THEM in front of me.” Jesus – (Luke 19:27)
            The Vatican Concordat of 1933 was the first peace treaty signed with Hitler, long before the war began.
            That is not Atheism – it is FAITH.

            Emperor Hirohito, was another cult of the sun god – the sacrificial Kamikazes would live forever – in the war with ‘sacred’ Japan.
            That is not Atheism – it is FAITH

            800,000,000 people dead JUST BECAUSE OF RELIGIOUS WAR.

            3. Atheism is the challenge to a claim that God exists. That is all it is. The atheist says “I do not believe a God exists”.
            Atheism is NOT the claim that a God does not exist. For all I know, maybe God is out there somewhere. But I see no REASON to believe in God and no demonstration that shows God is anything more than a cultural, traditional, social phenomenon – completely manmade.

            4. If we are to accept that something is TRUE because it has been around for a long time, then we must say that Islam must be true. And that the cult of Osiris must be true. And that the cult of Athena must be true.

            Most importantly Judaism is much older than Christianity (4000 years) so by your analysis Judaism must be TRUE.

            But of course they cannot all be true because they conflict completely with each other. Even Mohammed wrote in 600 C.E :

            Quran (9:30) – “And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!”

            So my question to you is this:
            Which is more likely…
            That ONE God created all of mankind?
            Or that men created many, many, many Gods?

          • WELSHDAVE,

            You say, “My belief tells me” ….

            Though I don’t expect to persuade you to reconsider your beliefs, you should realize that your “belief” is the weakest argument you could make.

            You seem sure God exists and certain of your interpretation of God.
            Consider that the same religious thought circle is what Muslims
            are experiencing in their own heads about Mohammed and Allah.

            Each is convinced the other religion is wrong about God.
            Each ‘believes in their heart’ that they are absolutely right.

            What tools did God give us to sort out these deep convictions? It seems that “knowing in your heart” cannot be useful. Evidence of some sort needs to be your guide here, not belief.

          • WELSHDAVE,

            These wars were also purely religious:
            Each side claims “God on our side”

            War on Aids – 20 Million Dead – Catholics refused condoms!
            Spanish Inquisition – 500,000 dead – Catholic
            The Crusades – 1.5 Million dead – Catholic
            Anti-Semitism – Uncountable millions – Catholic
            Witch Trials – 500,000 dead. Protestant AND CATHOLIC
            Israel – endless Jewish/Muslim wars
            Ireland – 500,000 dead (Catholic vs. Protestant)
            Rwanda 1994 (Catholic Facists)
            Boznia-Herzegovina (Catholic Facists)
            The Ivory Coast civil wars (Catholic Facists)
            Franco, the Spanish Civil War (Catholic Facists)
            Cypriat War
            East Timor civil war
            Sri Lankan civil war
            Current Iraqi civil war
            Hezbollah vs. Israel
            Syria vs. Israel
            Kashmir civil war
            Chechnya civil war
            WW1 End of Christendom

            In a world with NO religion the World Trade Center would still be standing.

          • AMax, do you really BELIEVE that Pol Pot believed in Buddhism?!! Or are you just trying to insult Buddhism? And I don’t need to mention about the other guys. Have fun having “FAITH” in those “facts”!

      • gilhcan You might want to check you history on VII. Ratzinger was one of the radical reformers and he says himself things went too far. Also the commentary texts written by the people who were there make interesting reading. And it’s my generation onwards that has suffered the inconsistencies and let’s make it up as we go along and we are tired of it. Yay for Pope Benedict and yay for Pope Francis who is working in continuity.

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