By John Ensor •
Published: 31 Aug 2023 • 13:57
Credit: giulio napolitano/Shutterstock.com
A provocative message in the sky above Italy’s beaches has prompted a controversial conspiracy theory about Pope Francis.
It wasn’t your typical beachside advertisement. A cryptic aerial banner flying over the beaches of Romagna has ignited both curiosity and controversy, writes Cesena Today.
On a recent lunchtime, beachgoers from Ravennate to Cesenatico and the Rimini area looked up to see an aeroplane towing a banner. The message read, ‘Benedict XVI was in the seat impeded.’ This isn’t the first time such banners have appeared; similar messages have flown over various Italian beaches since last July, capturing the attention of sunbathers and swimmers alike.
The sponsors of these aerial campaigns were previously identified by Andrea Cionci, author of ‘Codex Ratzinger.’ He is associated with a non-profit organisation of lawyers called ‘Arbitrium – legal first aid for the protection of inviolable rights.’ Cionci has been vocal about his theories, which have stirred debate among various groups.
Cionci argues that the 2013 abdication of Benedict XVI was a sham. He believes that Pope Francis is illegitimately occupying the papal throne. According to this line of thought, the message ‘Benedict XVI was in an impeded seat’ refers to technical canonical jargon, implying that the former Pope was pressured into resigning.
This viewpoint is mainly supported by ultra-traditionalist Catholic groups. They suggest that Pope Ratzinger was coerced into resigning. Therefore, they claim the papal seat would be ‘vacant’ upon his death, as no conclave was held. This theory has been a topic of discussion in various religious circles but has yet to gain mainstream traction.
However, this theory finds no acceptance within the official Church. The banner seems to be an indirect way to promote this controversial viewpoint. In a radio interview last month, Cionci explained the choice of the banner. He said it was to put the message ‘in the hands of the public, piercing the mainstream,’ aiming to bypass traditional media outlets that might not give his theory the time of day.
Just last week, the same method was used for a more mundane message. A tourist on a Rimini beach used a banner to propose to his fiancée Alessia. She said ‘yes,’ warming the hearts of those on the beach, showing that the sky is the limit when it comes to capturing public attention.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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