Image: Screengrab of www.dictatorpope.com
Last week, I offered a preview of a new book called The Dictator Pope, which bills itself as “The inside story of the most tyrannical and unprincipled papacy of modern times.” In my sneak peek at the book, I said it was important and asked you to consider pre-ordering it, and you rose to the occasion. Today it debuted in English as an Amazon best-seller out of the gate, ranking #1 in Books > Christian Books & Bibles > Biographies > Popes & the Vatican, #2 in Books > Christian Books & Bibles > Catholicism, and rising about 500 spots to sit at #876 in the Kindle store overall.
To be clear: I did not write or contribute to the writing of this book and I have no financial interest in promoting it, other than that if you click one of our links and buy it at Amazon, 1P5 gets a standard affiliate commission for sending you to their store. I simply believe it provides essential information at a critical time, and I am doing whatever I can to help get it out there so people can come to understand the truth about the crisis in the Vatican.
After giving it a skim last week to offer you an overview, I’m going back through it more slowly today, and am about a quarter of the way through. I am already learning things that I did not know.
For example, did you realize that Pope Benedict XVI refused to accept Bergoglio’s mandatory resignation at age 75?
The position that Bergoglio built up in these years was threatened, however, by a looming deadline. In December 2011, on reaching the age of seventy-five, he would have to submit his resignation as archbishop, and a movement away from the sinking ship became apparent. Omar Bello considers that by 2011 Bergoglio had been eclipsed in influence by his rival Héctor Aguer, Archbishop of La Plata. Pope Benedict in fact refused Bergoglio’s resignation (to the disgust of some members of the Argentinian hierarchy, who would soon suffer for their discontent) and, as often happens in such cases, asked the retiring prelate to continue for a little longer. But even in his own eyes Cardinal Bergoglio could only seem an increasingly lame duck at this time; he was talking about resigning and withdrawing to a retirement home for the clergy. The hopes that had been raised in the 2005 Conclave were disappearing, as Pope Benedict’s reign followed a doctrinal line which Bergoglio had too openly discarded.
Colonna, Marcantonio. The Dictator Pope (Kindle Locations 628-635). Kindle Edition.
And this came as a shocker: according to sources interviewed by the author in Argentina, Bergoglio knew Benedict would be abdicating before he announced it — and Benedict’s having allowed him to stay on would play a direct role in what came next:
Unexpectedly, however, this gloomy situation was transformed by a rumour from Rome. By the middle of 2012, a few insiders in the Curia knew that Pope Benedict was considering abdication; he had confided his intention to two of his closest associates, the Secretary of State Cardinal Bertone, and the papal secretary Archbishop Gänswein, and he had named the exact date: 28 February 2013. Cardinal Bergoglio’s communications with Rome were abruptly stepped up from this time, rising to hectic levels as the date approached.43 Sure enough, on 11 February 2013 Pope Benedict made his public announcement to the cardinals, and it took almost the whole world by surprise; not Bergoglio and his associates, however, as eyewitnesses discovered. On the day of the announcement itself, the rector of Buenos Aires cathedral went to visit his Cardinal and found him exultant. During their interview, the telephone never stopped ringing with international calls from Bergoglio’s allies, and they were all calls of personal congratulation. One Argentinian friend, however, less well informed than the others, rang up to ask about the extraordinary news, and Bergoglio told him: “You don’t know what this means.”44
Cardinal Bergoglio had had eight years to mull exactly what it meant. In 2005, the plans of the St Gallen Group had seemed shattered by the election of Benedict XVI. It was assumed that Benedict was due for a reign of ten or even fifteen years, and that would be too long for any of those involved to benefit. The abdication in February 2013 came just in time to revive the St Gallen programme. Cardinal Martini had died the previous year, but Danneels and Kasper were just young enough to beat the exclusion from papal conclaves that cardinals incur at the age of eighty, a milestone they would both reach later in the year. Above all, Bergoglio, at the age of 76, remained papabile; the extension of his mandate by Pope Benedict meant that he was still in place as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, and thus a leading member of the Latin American hierarchy.
Colonna, Marcantonio. The Dictator Pope (Kindle Locations 636-652). Kindle Edition.
It is becoming a frequent occurrence that the book offers some new insight, or ties together pieces of information I already knew in a way that helps me better connect the puzzle in my head. If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, you’re missing out on what is turning out to be the best, most readable overview of this entire papacy I’ve yet come across. (And I say this as one of the sources cited in the book’s footnotes.)
Some of you have asked me if there’s a physical copy available, or just an ebook. For the moment, the answer is just an ebook. I’ve been in contact over the past few days with some people with knowledge of the book’s production, and they’ve told me there’s an interest in producing a physical copy, but it’s still in the planning stages. (You’ll note that the ebook was self-published; this is one of the most efficient ways to get a text out and into the hands of as many people as possible as quickly as possible.) Also, to answer another question, even if you don’t have a Kindle, you can read the ebook. Just download the kindle app for your phone, tablet, PC or Mac right here.
Finally, I was also informed that as of today, the book’s website has gone back up. There’s really not much new information there, but considering that the first version of the website was taken down after the designer was hounded by people in Rome trying to get him to reveal the author’s identity, it’s noteworthy.
I am sure I’ll have more to share as I make my way through the rest of the book. Stay tuned!
This post has been updated to link to the new Regnery edition of the book.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.