St. Gallen Group

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Cardinals Walter Kasper and Godfried Danneels, two prominent members of the Club of St. Gallen.

The St. Gallen Group was the name given[by whom?] to an informal grouping of high ranking reformist clerics in the Roman Catholic Church who met annually to discuss themes such as the situation of the church, papal primacy,[citation needed] and collegiality.[1] The group also shared a general dislike for Joseph Ratzinger and were not keen to see his election to pope as successor to John Paul II.[2][3][4] The Bishop of Saint Gallen, Ivo Fürer, who hosted the discussions, described it as a circle of friends (Freundeskreise).[5] The authors of a biography of one participant called it "the St. Gallen club".[6]


The impetus for the discussions came from Bishop Ivo Fürer and Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini. The discussions were held at St. Gallen, Switzerland, between 1995 and 2006. The group did not meet after 2006.[2] Members are said to have included at various times Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Belgium and Cardinal Walter Kasper, Dutch Bishop Ad van Luyn, the German Cardinal Karl Lehmann, the Italian Cardinal Achille Silvestrini and British Cardinal Basil Hume were also affiliated,[7][4] as well as Cardinal José Policarpo, British Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, and Ukrainian Cardinal Lubomyr Husar,[3]

The gatherings were first revealed in a biography of Danneels.[2] At a press conference in September 2015, Danneels mocked the name St. Gallen Group for sounding "prestigious" and provoked laughter by joking that "in fact we said about ourselves and that group: the mafia".[2][8][9]

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, a member of the St Gallen Group

After Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI at the papal conclave, 2005, the group disbanded.

According to Catholic writer Austen Ivereigh four of its participants whom he labels "Team Bergoglio"[10] worked in concert to advocate the election of Jorge Bergoglio at the 2013 Papal conclave, Kasper, Danneels, Lehmann, and Murphy-O'Connor, still hoping to elect a more modern leader for the church. All four cardinals denied this.[11][12][13][14] The director of the Holy See Press Office said the cardinals were "surprised and disappointed" at what was written about them and that they "expressly denied this description of events ... with regard to the conduct of a campaign for [Bergoglio's] election".[15]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Ivereigh 2014, p. 258.
  2. ^ a b c d "Cardinal Danneels Admits to Being Part of 'Mafia' Club Opposed to Benedict XVI". National Catholic Register. 24 September 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Cardinal Danneels' Biographers Retract Comments on St. Gallen Group". National Catholic Register. 24 September 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  4. ^ a b "The Anti-Benedict Conspiracy". The American Conservative. 24 September 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  5. ^ "Aktuelles" (in German). Bistum St. Gallen. 30 September 2015. Retrieved 16 August 2017. The diocese presents an archive of its press releases. The press release of the diocese is "Sensationsmeldung?" ("Sensational News?") dated 30 September 2015 and at the bottom of that is a link to Fürer's statement "Erklärungen von em. Bischof Ivo Fürer" ("Expanations by Bishop emeritus Ivo Fürer").
  6. ^ Pentin, Edward (26 September 2015). "Cardinal Danneels' Biographers Retract Comments on St. Gallen Group". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  7. ^ "Francesco: elezione preparata da anni". La Stampa. 24 September 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  8. ^ "Danneels: 'Zat in soort maffiaclub'". VTM Nieuws (in Dutch). 24 September 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  9. ^ "Cardinal Danneels Admits Being Part of Clerical 'Mafia' That Plotted Francis' Election". LifeSiteNews. 24 September 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  10. ^ "What Is the Truth About Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor and 'Team Bergoglio'?". The Spectator. 25 November 2014. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  11. ^ "Author, Cardinals Spar over Reports of Conclave Campaigning". Catholic News Agency. 4 December 2014. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  12. ^ "Smoking Gun? Pope Francis' Critics Cite New Book in Questioning His Papacy". The Washington Post. 5 December 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  13. ^ "Pope Francis: How Cardinals' Conclave Lobbying Campaign Paved Way for Argentine Pontiff". The Daily Telegraph. 22 November 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  14. ^ "Cardinal Godfried Daneels Part of 'Mafia' Club". The Weekend Australian. 24 September 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  15. ^ "Vatican Press Director Denies Papal Election Details in New Book". Zenit. 1 December 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2017.


Ivereigh, Austen (2014). The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope. New York: Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 978-1-62779-158-8.
Mettepenningen, Jürgen (2015). Godfried Danneels Biographie (in French). Antwerp, Belgium: Uitgeverij Polis. ISBN 978-94-6310-023-6.