Robert Royal on The Dictator Pope
by Christopher A. Ferrara
December 11, 2017
Pope Francis is alienating so many of the Catholic faithful with his heavy-handed tactics in support of reckless “reforms” that harsh criticism of the Pope is now a commonplace in the “mainstream” or “conservative” Catholic press. This is something we have not seen during the previous fifty years of the ecclesial revolution that is clearly culminating in this pontificate.
Consider, for example, the favorable review by Robert Royal, EWTN’s respected Rome correspondent, of The Dictator Pope, a withering exposé of the real Francis, the one who operates behind closed doors when the cameras aren’t rolling. Royal’s review, which appears on the decidedly mainstream website The Catholic Thing, declares that the book’s pseudonymous author Marcantonio Colonna, who “could not publish under his real name, for fear of reprisals,” presents “a largely convincing” case that while “Pope Francis has carefully cultivated an image in public as the apostle of mercy, kindness, and openness; in private, he’s authoritarian, given to profanity-laced outbursts of anger, and manipulative in pursuing his agenda.”
To which Royal adds, matter-of-factly, that “This is hardly news, least of all in Rome.” Colonna’s contribution, however, is an account of the real Francis that Royal calls “far more probing and detailed than anything that has previously appeared. It sometimes stretches evidence, but the sheer amount of evidence it provides is stunning. About 90 percent of it is simply incontrovertible, and cannot help but clarify who Francis is and what he’s about.”
Pope Francis, writes Royal, “is relentless” in getting what he wants when it comes to “the divorced and remarried, the environment, immigrants, ‘Islamophobia,’ [and] the poor. But he was not elected to revolutionize marital doctrine or ‘discipline.’ Nor was he chosen to be a player in international politics. He was elected to be a ‘reformer’ who would mainly clean up Vatican finances and deal with the gay lobby, two things that played a role in Benedict’s resignation.”
As for the two things for which Francis was supposedly elected, however, he has done little or nothing. Quite to the contrary, notes Royal, the Vatican financial reform “stalled as the old guard slowly regained control over Vatican finances… [and] a series of Vatican Bank presidents, officials, accountants, etc. – probably getting too close to the truth – have been fired without good explanations,” whereas Cardinal Pell, who was supposed to lead the reform, “ had to return to Australia to deal with sexual abuse charges from forty years ago that, suspiciously, resurfaced after being earlier examined and dismissed.”
As for the “gay lobby,” Francis has not only failed to root it out of the Vatican apparatus, but has installed Msgr. Battista Ricca, “who was involved in several notorious homosexual scandals,” as nothing less than “the pope’s ‘eyes and ears’ at the Vatican Bank and director of the Casa Santa Marta, where Francis resides.”
Then too, says Royal, “there’s the troubling, casual resurrection of figures like Cardinal Gottfried Daneels, once thoroughly discredited for his support for contraception, divorce, gay marriage, even euthanasia and abortion – and outrageous mishandling of priestly abuse. But he stood with Francis on the balcony of St. Peter’s right after the conclave and read the prayer for the new pope at his inauguration. He was also one of the ringers Francis personally invited to bolster his case at the Synods.”
On that score, Royal further notes the appointment of “another radical, Archbishop Paglia, to head the ‘reformed’ John Paul II Institute on Marriage and the Family. In a remarkably naked authoritarian move, the pope substituted himself for Cardinal Sarah for the institute’s opening academic address in 2016, and spoke of ‘a far too abstract and almost artificial theological ideal of marriage.’ You have to believe that Cardinal Marx was expressing the truth when he said, at the end of the synods, that it was just the beginning.”
It is simply stunning that a mainstream commentator as respected as Royal is constrained to conclude that we have a Pope who “has little use for established procedures, precedents, even legal structures within the Church. These are not mere trivial rules, Pharisaic legalism, resistance to the Holy Spirit, etc. They are the means by which the Church seeks to be clear, fair, and orderly – and to address unjust actions or abuses by those in power.”
Royal asks: “When the head of the Church himself does not much feel bound by the tradition or impartial laws he has inherited, what then? That the question even has to be asked is disturbing.”
Indeed, it is. But now the question is so pressing that it has become a preoccupation of the mainstream Catholic press, no longer simply the concern of the “radical traditionalists” and “Fatimists,” who have been mocked and marginalized for decades as they accurately diagnosed the ecclesial malaise that now appears to be in its most acute phase, for which it now seems only the most dramatically imposed divine cure will be able to prevent final disaster.
In fear, but sustained by hope, we await the final inevitable triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary over even the depredations of a Dictator Pope.