From the outside it appears the conference was set up on the Papacy with a deal predicted to happen. The conference could then address the limits of papal power and set up a framework for operating under Conciliar oversight/ structures.
It looks like that was foiled and then they had to have a conference on the papacy anyway. With most of the Society faithful on all sides disgusted with the papacy at the time of the conference, it is not surprising if turn out was low.
Who wants to go to a conference on the papacy anyway?
It's not like this is advanced subject matter for trads, and therefore worthy of hopping on a plane for.
I thought the theme was very boring, and like you, immediately suspected a political motive in the selection of the topic.
I totally agree. Don't know if anyone noticed, but it was rather interesting that the promotional ads before the conference showed a picture of Pope Benedict XVI in the Remnant
ads, but a picture of Pope St. Pius X in the CFN
ads. Interesting commentary on the leanings of the readership.
Also, if I'm not mistaken, I thought the conference was in a totally different hotel this year than the first 2 years. We went to the first 2 conferences, but were not interested in this year's topic, even before the strange turn in the Rome talks.
They also threw the attendees a curve ball when they made a change mid-stream and decided to start the conference with an 8am Mass on FRIDAY morning some weeks after many had already pre-registered. Hence those people had not made reservations for Thursday night, since they had anticipated the conference starting around 4pm Friday with registration, like it did for the past 2 conferences, and still considered Friday a "travel" day.
When they got wind of this and tried to add a night, they were told the hotel was full for Thursday night. If you had plane reservations for Friday, you were out of luck.