The Strange Case of Austen Ivereigh

Ivereigh speaking at an interview for an Argentinian newspaper. Source: Wikipedia
Since the conclave in 2013, Austen Ivereigh has been at the forefront of public comment regarding Pope Francis. He is currently busy doing his absolute best to discredit Archbishop Viganò while completely ignoring the reality of abuse in the institutional Church, it really is quite shocking to behold. In fact Ivereigh referred to McCarrick sexually abusing seminarians as him "having sex with adults" and expressed no outrage whatever, it's like he is completely blind to reality where there is anything that smacks of a problem for Pope Francis.

It also doesn't take much of a watcher to spot that Ivereigh comes to the exact same conclusions as co-conspirators like Anthony Spadaro, James Martin and Dawn Eden, and they all go public at about the same time with the same strategy, I mean theory.

He is far from objective, offering uncritical support for the Argentinian Pontiff and often quite personal and vicious polemic at his critics. Ivereigh's current theological position (I use the term very lightly here) seems strangely and conspicuously at odds with his pre 2013 one, although he argues that there is complete continuity.

Ivereigh was educated at the Benedictine public school, Worth, and was, briefly, a novice member of the Society of Jesus. In 1989 he joined St Antony's College, Oxford, as a postgraduate student. In 1993 he completed a D.Phil. thesis for the University of Oxford titled Catholicism and Politics in Argentina: an Interpretation, with Special Reference to the Period 1930-1960 published as Catholicism and Politics in Argentina, 1810-1960 (New York: St Martin's Press; Basingstoke: Macmillan in association with St Antony's College, Oxford, 1995).

In October 2004, Ivereigh was appointed press secretary to the Archbishop of Westminster, working alongside his public affairs adviser, Sir Stephen Wall. After Sir Stephen's departure in May 2005, Ivereigh was appointed director for public affairs, a role which combined both positions.

From 2000 until 2009, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster was Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor; the Cardinal was also one of the group of clerics dubbed the St. Gallen “mafia” by Cardinal Godfried Danneels. This group's self-espoused goal was to radically "modernise" the Church.

The group came into existence sometime around 1996. Besides Murphy-O’Connor, the "mafia" included Cardinals da Cruz Policarpo, Martini, Danneels, Silvestrini, Husar, Kasper, and Lehmann. These conspiring prelates considered that they could have a “significant impact” on future papal elections if each of them used their own network of contacts, according to Danneels’ authorised biography co-written by Jürgen Mettepenningen and Karim Schelkens.

The group allegedly lost its impetus in 2006 after failing to have their preferred candidate elected in the 2005 conclave. This is the group which has been accused of being involved in a plot that led to the resignation of Pope Benedict.

According to Papal apologist Austen Ivereigh, days prior to the March 12 conclave in Rome, Murphy-O’Connor was tasked by the St. Gallen “mafia” with informing Bergoglio of a plan to get him elected. Apparently Murphy-O’Connor was an old friend of Bergoglio.

As Ivereigh described in his 2014 book on Pope Francis, Murphy-O’Connor was also tasked with lobbying for Bergoglio among his North American counterparts as well as acting as a link for those from Commonwealth countries.

“They first secured Bergoglio’s assent,” wrote Ivereigh. “Asked if he was willing, he said that he believed that at this time of crisis for the Church no cardinal could refuse if asked. Murphy-O’Connor knowingly warned him to 'be careful,’ and that it was his turn now, and was told 'capisco’ – 'I understand.’”

“Then they got to work, touring the cardinals’ dinners to promote their man, arguing that his age – 76 – should no longer be considered an obstacle, given that popes could resign. Having understood from 2005 the dynamics of a conclave, they knew that votes travelled to those who made a strong showing out of the gate,” he wrote.

Because he was over the age of 80, Murphy-O'Connor was not able to vote in the Conclave, but was present at the pre-Conclave gatherings. On March 2, an anonymous cardinal who was not able to vote in the conclave told Italian news service La Stampa that, “Four years of Bergoglio would be enough to change things.” Murphy-O'Connor was later named making the same comment in a July 2013 piece that appeared in the Independent.

Given Ivereigh's unrelenting support for Pope Francis which literally knows no bounds, I have been wondering if it might be plausible that, given his undoubted and unusual knowledge of the Argentinian Church, and his Jesuit links, Ivereigh was, in fact, the man that gave Murphy-O'Connor and therefore the St. Gallen “mafia” the idea that Bergoglio was in fact their man? Given that he has so much invested in this utterly bizarre and disastrous papacy, this could plausibly be a reason why he just cannot seem to be in any way objective about the Franciscan Pontificate, irrespective of what the wayward Pontiff says or does? Could it be that in some way he is responsible?

What do you think?


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