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Cardinal Rampolla
Question from Sarah on 7/10/2006:

I remember hearing something about His Eminence Cardinal Rampolla, who lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The specific thing that I heard about Cardinal Rampolla, was that he was allegedly a Freemason.

Do you know if there is any truth to this?

Thanks!

Answer by Matthew Bunson on 7/19/2006:

Cardinal Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro (d. 1913) was one of the most prominent Cardinals in the Church at the turn of the century. He was born in Sicily to a noble family and was ordained a priest in 1866. On March 14, 1887 Pope Leo XIII created him a Cardinal, and in June that same year he was appointed Secretary of State.

After the death of Leo XIII in 1903, Cardinal Rampolla was widely considered a strong candidate for election as pope, although it is a matter of some conjecture as to how strong his candidacy truly was. Nevertheless, the conclave was historical notable – aside form the election of Pope St. Pius X – for the fact that it marked the last time that a monarch of Europe exercised a veto on a Cardinal. Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph I informed the Cardinals that he demanded his right to veto the candidacy owing to the pro-French positions favored by Rampolla in wider issues of European politics.

The Cardinals rejected the notion of the veto, but Cardinal Rampolla’s candidacy – which was likely already fading – ended swiftly and Cardinal Giuseppe Sarto of Venice was elected as Pope Pius X. The new pope swiftly abolished any veto privileges that might be claimed by a European monarch.

I am unaware of any ties he might have had to the Freemasons.

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