Recent news of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation has sparked speculation that more may be involved than the publicly cited reason that the Holy Father's health no longer enabled him to continue.
Sources close to both the Pope and the Vatican have informed LIGNET that Benedict's decision was brought on by his declining health in the context of a major power struggle within the Holy See.
Two major appointments made by Benedict in the closing days of his papacy, including one to install a new head of the Vatican Bank, are signs of this struggle.
Vatican insiders, including a close friend of Benedict's, reveal to LIGNET details of the intrigue swirling around this historic power struggle that has marked the last days of his papacy.
A key source suggests that four cardinals, including two from Latin America, are the leading contenders. LIGNET identifies the front-runner to become the next pope, a cardinal who was close to John Paul II, trusted by Benedict, skilled in Vatican maneuvering, and who has been in the front lines dealing with the rise of radical Islam.
The intrigue that has swirled around Benedict's papacy must be cooled to enable the Church to meet enormous challenges, including the growing secularization of Europe and the West; the rise of militant Islam that is in a violent confrontation with Christians throughout the Middle East; the battle to maintain influence in Africa against well-funded radical Islamists; the need to deal with increasing Protestant evangelization throughout Latin America; and protecting the underground Catholic Church in China so that it can grow.