Siri Thesis Under Attack

Part I

February 14, 2006


H. Spigornell


Perhaps "thousands of people around the world"

believe Cardinal Siri was elected Pope.

A slick yet sleazy attack on the ideas promoted by concerned Catholics like us has been launched recently by Inside the Vatican (ITV), a well-funded periodical with strong links to the current papal imposter.  Readers should beware of an article in the February issue which, entitled “The Siri Thesis Unravels” and attributed to the ITV staff, tells traditionalists to renounce the “untenable theories” that have resulted from the confusion following Vatican II.  Among these, they say, is the Siri Thesis, which holds that Cardinal Giuseppe Siri was actually elected at the conclave of 1958, but that his election was suppressed and an antipope put in his place.  We note that in their grossly unfair treatment of this, the ITV staff condescendingly dismisses a critical view of pivotal moments in history as “conspiracy theory” and skews salient facts relating to these in order to deceive the general public — aye, if possible, even the elect.


It’s part of a ploy, obviously, slyly crafted to lure misguided traditionalists into what might be termed a “Rat Pack.”  From start to finish, the tone of the piece is unctuous: poor, dumb Catholics, confused, frustrated and deluded by the changes since Vatican II are urged to renounce their wayward ways and come to Papa Ratzinger, whose image graces the pages, and covers, of numerous ITV issues.  What’s ironic, however — and encouraging to stalwarts — is the importance the ITV Staff gives to the Siri Thesis even as they condemn it.  They suggest, for instance, that “thousands of people around the world” believe that Giuseppe Cardinal Siri was elected pope and continued in that office until his death in 1989.  In our view, the fact that ITV considers this idea enough of a threat to single it out for attack only adds to its credence.  Certainly the article has only served to publicize its existence to those in the dark regarding such matters.


The ITV piece does, nevertheless, mislead the unwary reader by misrepresenting important aspects of the Siri Thesis.  It errs royally when it says this is “built upon one key point: the issue of the ‘white smoke’ that appeared for a brief time on October 26, 1958, before changing to black.”  Let us note that whereas the thesis most certainly does not depend only upon this one event, newspapers around the world did in fact record the contrary: white smoke appeared for a full five minutes, only to diminish before returning again for awhile.  This hardly constitutes a “brief time”— not for this sort of signal.  Indeed it took about 40 minutes from the time the smoke began for the final negative word to get out to the vast crowd in St. Peter’s Square.  Meanwhile, radios around the world were broadcasting the news that a pope had been elected.


Also false is the ITV assertion that, according to the official thesis, after Siri’s election “the smoke was white to signal his election, but that the color changed to black when the conclave annulled or overturned Siri’s election.”  Reading this, one might assume the smoke came automatically, not that there were actual officials manning the stove.  Or it might suggest to some that those in charge told these men to go ahead and fire up the white smoke signaling Siri’s election, then five minutes later say: Gee guys, we have to annul this, bring on the black stuff — and that like good little automatons that they were, they complied.  Such a scenario, being absurd, is obviously intended to mislead readers regarding the Siri thesis as well as to discredit it.


The truth is, men, not being automatons, do not always comply with a prescribed agenda, especially if this is revealed suddenly when they are intent on performing a specific duty.  If the clerics at the stove were not in on the fix, but, after Siri’s election and acceptance, were ordered to fire up black smoke instead of white, they might have stuck to their guns and tried to let out the truth.  Such a concept should not be entirely foreign to those at ITV.  Indeed, their very own September, 2004 issue features an interview with Rev. Jean-Marie Charles-Roux, wherein he testifies that there were “certain irregularities” at the 1958 conclave, “as Cardinal Tisserant has himself acknowledged.”  He goes on to report that some say “Agagianian was elected, others Siri, others some other cardinal, and that the camerlengo then annulled the election.”  He concludes that, in any case, “I’m quite sure John XXIII chose his name, the name of an antipope, quite consciously, to show he had been irregularly elected.


Such a statement coming from a venerable priest whose father was a French ambassador to the Holy See and a close friend of Cardinal Tisserant, is strong stuff indeed, especially if we realize that no camerlengo has the power to “annul” the election of a man who has been elected pope, and has accepted the office.  Once he does this, and chooses a name, he is pope for the duration of his life.  The Cardinals then pay their respects, and, at this point only, the “positive smoke” goes up.  The election cannot at this point be “annulled”; nor can the pope simply abdicate, unless he does so freely, –– not under duress.     


Since Rev. Charles-Roux suggests that the “irregularities” of the 1958 conclave resulted in Roncalli’s being “irregularly elected,” may we not conclude that this irregular election would have been of questionable validity at best?  How else can we interpret these words, especially when Charles-Roux goes on to say he thinks Roncalli deliberately chose the name of an antipope in order to tell us something.  I mean, given the circumstances, what could this mysterious message have been, other than he himself just might be an antipope?


Surely this should be most clear, even to those at ITV, who dare accuse upholders of the Siri Thesis of “shoddy scholarship.”  The gall!  They did, after all, publish the Charles-Roux interview.  Assuming the editors read their own magazine, and stand by it, how can they then justify their current attack on the “Siri Thesis” as being the product of frustrated, deluded conspiracy theorists?  To be consistent, should they not first renounce and apologize to their public for the article in their September 2004 issue?  They cannot reasonably support it while condemning the Siri thesis, for this is in fact based on the same sort of information as that provided by Fr. Charles-Roux, that “certain irregularities” during the 1958 conclave resulted in the suppression of a true pope and the promotion of an antipope in his stead.     


Moreover, we also know that in a 1993 interview with Gary Giuffré, prime mover of the Siri Thesis, Father Charles-Roux reported that during the 1958 conclave there was a fight at the stove — a “shoving match,” no less, between those in favor of suppressing the papal election that had just occurred, and those determined to get the truth out.  This, said Fr. Charles-Roux, accounted for the confusing changes in the smoke.  While it is true that such a ruckus does not constitute the norm for papal conclaves, once we admit that “irregularities” enter the picture, all sorts of possibilities emerge.

To be continued…

Copyright 2006 by Judith M. Gordon

Click HERE for Part II

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