Pope Benedict 'Murder Plot' Shakes Italy
Vatican dismisses assassination outlined in letter
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2012 2:00 PM CST
Pope Benedict XVI leads the celebration of Vespers on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord on January 2, 2012 at St Peter's basilica at the Vatican.    (Getty Images)

(Newser) – A bizarre plot to assassinate the Pope made headlines in Italy yesterday and may signal a new turn in a Vatican power struggle, the Guardian reports. A cardinal from Colombia notified Pope Benedict XVI's inner circle about the plan by delivering a letter from Cardinal Paolo Romeo, the archbishop of Palermo. In the letter, Romeo claims to have heard about the murder plot during several conversations with Italian businessmen in Beijing last November.

The businessmen predicted that Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan, would replace Benedict after the Pope's death during the next 12 months. A Vatican spokesman publicly dismissed the letter, calling it "so far from reality and not serious that I don't want to even comment." But the cardinal who delivered the letter suggested that the Vatican investigate. The newspaper that broke the story linked it to an ugly Vatican power dispute that involves a whistleblower who accused Vatican officials of corruption.