Note: While LifeSiteNews originally reported that the leaked documents were part of the files leaked this week by Wikileaks, it is now unclear whether or not this is the case. Although some agencies are reporting that the files are included in the Wikileaks cache of leaked cables, the first news agency to report the contents of the documents, the Italian newspaper La Stampa, reports that it obtained the files through a freedom of information request, not from Wikileaks. It remains unclear, however, whether the documents may also be included in the Wikileaks cache.

ROME, Italy, November 30, 2010 ( – American diplomats in Rome were caught off guard by Pope Benedict XVI’s election in 2005, and predicted instead that a more liberal Cardinal would take the vote, according to documents obtained by the Italian newspaper La Stampa.

One document from April 19, 2005, which La Stampa reports it obtained through a freedom of information request, says the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See was “shocked” and “speechless” at Pope Benedict’s election.

In an earlier communiqué classified as “sensitive,” the embassy listed Cardinal Gottfried Daneels, the now-retired Archbishop of Brussels, as one of the top candidates, as well as Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, Archbishop of Milan.

Cardinal Daneels is renowned in Europe as a dissenter from Catholic teaching, particularly on issues of sexual morality such as contraception and homosexuality.

The embassy believed the successful candidate would have pastoral experience and be versed in the new media, says U.K.‘s The Catholic Herald.  They suspected he would not be too old or too young, and would speak Italian but perhaps not hail from Italy.

While they predicted then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger would gain a number of votes, the diplomats expected he would instead remain a “powerful cardinal” and a “guardian of theological orthodoxy.”


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