Rorate Caeli

Major interview by Henry Sire (author of the Dictator Pope): "Essentially the problem is that Bergoglio has no real principles, like the typical Peronist that he is."

Henry Sire, the historian and former member of the Order of Malta (illegally expelled for his research work on Francis) is well known and well regarded by orthodox Catholics worldwide for his great book on Jorge Mario Bergoglio, "The Dictator Pope."

He granted a long interview to The first long part is about the Order of Malta, and it is available on the original site -- the second part is one dealing with both the current Bishop of Rome and the future conclave, and is of great interest to all people, Catholics and non-Catholics, interested in the present and future of the Church.

Second part below:


The Dictator Pope came out in 2017 making considerable waves. What is the specific contribution of this book?
For the most part The Dictator Pope was little more than a round-up of the work that many journalists had already done analysing the abuses and blunders of Francis's rule. My main contribution was that I was able to use the insights of Argentinians who knew exactly what Bergoglio was like, insights which, owing to the language barrier, had not been made known in the English-speaking world.

Looking back, what would you write differently?
In fact, further research has shown me that I underestimated the morass of corruption to which Bergoglio belonged during his Argentinian career. An example was his role as a protector of clerical sexual abusers. I greatly regret that I had not fuller facts at my disposal so as to present a true picture of the man whom the cardinals elected Pope in 2013.

For instance?
When I wrote my book, I was not fully aware of the culture of moral and financial corruption in which the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires was immersed; for that culture Bergoglio was not himself responsible, but he did nothing to reform it, and he bolstered it by his policy of cover-up. There are also aspects of Bergoglio's early career which only an Argentinian researcher could fully explore, especially the controversial question of his behaviour during the military dictatorship.

You write in The Dictator Pope that Bergoglio owes his election to a relatio he presented at the Bishops Synod in 2001 and that this speech was written by Curia Monsignor Daniel Estivill. Was it a coincidence that Estivill is also an Argentinean?
As far as I know it was a coincidence, and I am not aware of any link between Bergoglio and Mgr Estivill. The latter was asked to draft the speech simply as secretary of the Bishops' Synod. He assumed that Bergoglio would take it just as a guideline and was surprised when he made no changes and delivered the speech exactly as it was written.

Your book contains a chapter about the St. Gallen Mafia. However, even without this group: Was it not just a question of time until a “Francis” would be elected pope, given the fact that in the decades before Francis, most bishops and cardinals were chosen from the conformist/liberal group?
It's certainly true that neither John Paul II nor Benedict did much to keep Modernists out of the College of Cardinals. Given the low standard of the modern hierarchy, the chances of a bad pope being elected were real.

Let us however remember that in 2013 the Church seemed to be travelling in the direction of a recovery of orthodoxy and tradition. It isn't true that somebody like Bergoglio would have been elected without the St Gallen Mafia. In fact, when Benedict abdicated, he expected his Secretary of State, Cardinal Bertone, to arrange the election of Cardinal Scola as pope; but Bertone was personally opposed to Scola and let Benedict down completely. The Conclave was thus thrown into disarray and the door was opened for the St Gallen intrigues.

Scola keeps defending Francis and attacking those who criticises this pontificate. Benedict created cardinals such as O’Malley, Sandri, Scherer, Koch, Ravasi, Wuerl, Marx, Coccopalmerio, Bráz de Aviz, Versaldi – all of them in leading position. How could the “Benedictine Reform” become reality with such people?
Pope Benedict followed what he would have called an even-handed policy in his appointments, and the result is that many of the worst representatives of the modern Church got to the top. But in particular, his choice of Cardinal Scola as a successor showed his bad judgment of men. Scola appeared to be a sound conservative, but in fact he was a careerist, as his subsequent behaviour has shown, and Bertone and the Italian cardinals rejected him precisely for that reason.

The existence of the Sankt Gallen Mafia was no secret. Evidently, Benedict XVI was not alarmed about this group, and he did not take any countermeasures.
Remember that the St Gallen Group failed in the Conclave of 2005, when Benedict himself was elected. Who would have foreseen that they would be suddenly resurrected in 2013?

Ecclesiastical circles are not known for being able to keep their secrets. Do you indeed believe that Benedict who is considered by everybody to be very intelligent, was clueless about the dangers?
Pope Benedict is certainly very intelligent, but he is primarily a scholar, and he has shown himself deficient in political calculation and in judgment of men. But the main point is that Benedict in fact had a plan for the 2013 Conclave: it was the election of Cardinal Scola, and he obviously assumed that it would succeed. The fact that it never even got off the ground threw out all calculations; but even a much cleverer observer could well have failed to predict that the St Gallen Mafia, which had ceased to meet since 2005, would be suddenly resurrected, and with exactly the same candidate.

And the timing of Benedict’s abdication?
Where Benedict fell down was in the timing of his abdication. If he had delayed it even six or twelve months, several of the key players, including Bergoglio himself, would have been retired. Just as with the Bertone-Scola fiasco, Benedict showed his bad political calculation, and the result has been a Greek tragedy: the election of the worst possible pope, just at the moment when the Church seemed headed for recovery. This was the worst fulfilment of the damage done by the Second Vatican Council.

You have studied with the Jesuits. Does this help to understand Francis?
Only in the sense that I have witnessed the collapse and corruption of the Society since the Second Vatican Council, and Bergoglio offers a classic case of it. It has been more of a help that I am half-Spanish and I therefore have an understanding of a Hispanic culture such as Argentina's.

A Hispanic culture?
Bergoglio is a classic product of Argentinian society, which is a caricature of Spanish society with special elements such as Peronism added. Essentially, those who try to understand Bergoglio from the standards of Anglo-Saxon or Germanic decency and correct conduct find themselves struggling to grasp the culture of unprincipled selfishness which for an Argentinian is just part of the climate.

Among the Jesuits in Argentina, Bergoglio was considered a “conservative”. He owed his career to “conservatives.” He had no support from his order. What went wrong?
You touch on the great mystery of Bergoglio's career, his transition from the right-hand man of the “reactionary” Cardinal Quarracino in Buenos Aires to the favourite of the St Gallen Group. The only explanation I can see is that, in the declining years of Pope John Paul II, it was expected that a more liberal pope would succeed him, and Bergoglio wanted to be on the winning side. I don't think he seriously expected to be the papal candidate himself before 2005. But essentially the problem is that Bergoglio has no real principles, like the typical Peronist that he is.

How would you describe Francis in psychological terms? He was in therapy with the Austrian-Jewish emigree Maria Langer who was more a Marxist ideologue than a psychologist. Langer was about the age of Bergoglio’s mother. Francis speaks about his family, especially his grandmother, but never about his mother. Why?
You are right that Bergoglio comes from a difficult family setting, and he has always avoided speaking about his parents. His background as a night-club bouncer (before he joined the Jesuits) is not exactly what we have been used to in modern Vicars of Christ. But I don't know enough about his early history to be able to comment.

Recently you explained on Twitter that a comparison between Francis and Stalin could be appropriate. In which sense?
I was replying to a comment made on Twitter, and the burden of my reply was that it is more appropriate to compare Bergoglio to Perón.

Peronist or just opportunist? In recent history, how many priests have been named bishops for their unwavering fidelity to the Faith? Isn’t opportunism the first requirement for those who want to climb the career ladder in the Church?
There are some exceptions: Cardinals Sarah and Burke, for example. But what distinguishes Bergoglio is that opportunism is part of an elaborate political culture in which he was brought up, and the basis for a cunning and manipulative career, in which most bishops don't match him.

Francis is an Italo-Argentinean who runs the Vatican in an Italio-Argentinean way with lots of minions and yes-men around him. Should the Church become more Anglo-Saxon?
I am not very Anglo-Saxon myself and I wouldn't like to put the case in national terms. It has certainly been a catastrophe for the Church to have as pope the representative of a very bad political culture such as Argentina's. The first step towards reform will be to escape from that legacy.

What is this political culture?
Dictatorial methods, obviously. Other elements in the culture include a loud-mouthed populism which enables a politician to claim that he is supporting the people when in fact he does nothing for them, and a hereditary anti-Yankeeism which has been the motivation for Francis's disastrous sell-out to the Chinese Communist government.

Francis loves to hide behind contradictions, for instances, by calling abortion a hit job and by calling the abortionist Emma Bonino one of the “great Italians.” What “tactic” is behind this?
This again is typical Peronism, throwing out contradictory signals to opposite parties. An Argentinian would understand it perfectly well, but to the rest of the world it appears incomprehensible.

Apart from Perón, does Francis not know Saint Paul’s “your word be yes, yes or no, no?
All through his life, Bergoglio's yes has been no, and his no has been yes.

During his November 7 Angelus, Francis called “hypocrisy a dangerous disease of the soul”, spoke against “duplicity, appearing in one way but having another thought and “taking advantage of your position to crush others”. It seems he was speaking about himself?
Like many people, Francis has a talent for condemning the vices that are peculiarly his own. It seems to be a special type of self-knowledge, whereby the subject instinctively recognises the vice but does not see the one who is guilty of it. It helps us to understand how Father Kolvenbach, the General of the Jesuits, basing himself on the reports of those who knew Bergoglio, accused him back in 1991 of duplicity and of lack of psychological balance.

As a historian, do you have any hint at what happened to the letter Kolvenbach wrote about Bergoglio? Has it disappeared? What was its content?
Father Kolvenbach's report was distributed in 1991 in numerous copies to the members of the Congregation for Bishops. Most of the copies would have been destroyed in the normal course of things, once Bergoglio's appointment as bishop had been granted. One copy was certainly kept in the archives of the Society of Jesus in Rome, and it disappeared shortly after Bergoglio became Pope. Obviously, he wanted to lose no time in suppressing it. At least one of the remaining copies, I know for a fact, is in the possession of a certain individual, who from prudential motives is keeping it secret. I myself have not seen the letter. I was told of its contents by a priest who had read it, and I reported exactly what he told me in The Dictator Pope. I know nothing beyond that.

Where is Francis doing the biggest damage?
I think that the worst damage that Pope Francis is doing is in the continuing flow of bad bishops and cardinals he has been appointing. It will probably lead to another bad papacy to follow. Even if by a miracle we escape that, it will be an appalling legacy that will weigh upon the Church for years.

Do you recall a good decision Francis took?
Inevitably, yes. His appointment of Cardinal Burke as Patronus of the Order of Malta was good, and he initially seemed to be helping the Cardinal to promote a traditional policy in the Order; but the trouble with such gestures is that they are wholly unreliable, and Francis is capable of undoing them at a stroke.

Francis is an opportunist, but only to a certain point. With Traditionis Custodes he has picked a fight he will be unable to win. He seems to harbour a hatred against the “good ones”. Do you have a clue why?
He is simply following the St Gallen programme in trying to stamp out tradition. It is also true, as you say, that his bias is against the good people in the Church. All through his career, he has surrounded himself with the compromised and the morally weak precisely because that enables him to control them.

How would you judge the impact Traditionis Custodes had?
“Traditiones Custodes” has been aptly translated as “The Jailers of Tradition”. It is the last bid of the Vatican II generation to block the recovery of tradition visible among younger Catholics. But a significant thing has been the reluctance of most bishops to carry through its repressive policy. The fact is that Pope Francis is so unpopular that many bishops will prefer to ignore his lead even when they have no particular sympathy with the old liturgy.

Will Traditionis Custodes stop the spread of the Roman Liturgy?
Of one thing we can be certain: the coming generation of Catholics will continue to rediscover the spiritual riches of the Church, and will continue to question the conciliar innovations, which are simply yesterday's policies whose rationale means little to them.

Francis styles himself as the “pope of the poor” while being popular with the rich and their journalists. He preaches “mercy” but is applauded by those who don’t care about divine mercy because they don’t think they are sinners. Whose pope is Francis?
Eight years into his pontificate we can answer that question clearly: Francis is the pope of the St Gallen Mafia and of the secular world media whose approval is his sole objective.

What does this mean?
Francis has no policy but to win the applause of the modern-day elites by following every fad of theirs: climate alarmism, uncontrolled immigration, an imitation Marxism which is in fact in the service of modern “woke” capitalism. If you look at Bergolio's record before he became pope, he showed certain “popular” sympathies, in the sense that he allied himself with the trade unions etc., but he did nothing for the really poor in Argentina, and he has been the same as pope. His policy is simply to push certain linguistic buttons, and the media react slavishly, depicting him as the champion of the poor for whom in practice he does nothing.

How will this all end?
Various commentators have said that Rome is in the typical state of the declining years of a papacy, with everyone's eyes on the next Conclave. The result of that Conclave is especially unpredictable on this occasion because Bergoglio has appointed so many cardinals from obscure parts of the world, and more, has deliberately prevented them from meeting so as to get to know each other.

What do you expect from the next Conclave?
One thing we can guarantee is that the next Conclave will be chaotic, and it may well produce a schism within the Conclave itself. Even if that is avoided, I think the most likely outcome is that the cardinals will try to elect a middle-of-the-road pope, to avoid the bad feelings that have been so plentifully created in this pontificate.

A middle-of-the-road Pope?
The next pope will then not know what to do, will not give a clear lead, and the confusion that has been created by Francis's ambiguities will grow even more. However, the future might be far more surprising than that. By the grace of God, the Conclave might even elect a good pope.

Who are the “good candidates” among the present cardinals who might have a chance to be elected?
In an article a few months ago, Sandro Magister named Cardinal Erdö, whom I met while I was in Rome, as one of the leading papabili – rather surprisingly considering the way Francis has packed the Sacred College. He is certainly entirely orthodox, but frankly I don't know of any cardinal who has the capacity to restore the Church and lead it on a path of genuine reform, i.e. the opposite of the image-driven gestures with which Pope Francis has been bamboozling the secular media. Five years ago I would have said Cardinal Sarah, but he is now 76, and I don't know whether he still has the vigour to do what is necessary if he were elected Pope.