On the foggy tales of Dictator Popes


Contrary to the facile opinion of a book of recent success in America, the Holy See may have a serious problem of too little, not too much control in its government.

The wondrous volume, The Dictator Pope by Marcantonio Colonna, surely bewitches those who believe the Holy See is home to plots and conspiracies spanning through centuries – the quest for the Holy Grail; the missing mystic of Egypt and Babylon; the lost links between Jesus and India’s Buddha and the Jain; the hidden pacts of Vatican and Mafia, both Italian after all; then the Illuminati, the Obscurati, the Confusati, the fights against Vampires, ware wolves, witches, warlocks et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Evidence of all of this is surely locked inside the vaults of the unfathomable, secretive, inaccessible Vatican library!

We all love these stories, but can we believe some or any of them? Certainly part of this is also documented history of the Church. But not all.

Here, surely the devotees of Vatican mysteries will trust that the pope among many other things is also a dictator. But is he really?

Colonna’s book itself in fact proves that he isn’t. He is a wu wei man. In the 4th century BC Taoist master Laozi preached that the best course of action for government was not acting, wu wei, the bon mot of Chinese style anarchists for millennia to follow.

A dictator, a control freak for government would not allow so many stories to be leaked and provide the essential fodder for The Dictator Pope. In other words, were the pope a true dictator Mr. Colonna wouldn’t ever have written his book, as there wouldn’t be so many secrets laying around for him to pick.

Indeed unlike a proper dictator, the pope acts too little, he doesn’t act too much.

In fact, we don’t have to search for revelations but just follow recent chronicles to have further confirmation of this, besides obvious logic.

On March 21st Monseigneur Dario Viganò resigned as Prefect of Communications of the Holy See for a serious embarrassment. He had asked pope emeritus Ratzinger to write a preface for the theological works of present pope Bergoglio.

Ratzinger replied with a handwritten letter basically saying: «The volumes prove that Bergoglio is indeed a deep thinker, but I need to read all the volumes to write a proper preface, I don’t have time to do so, so I can’t. Incidentally, I’m puzzled that a theologian who criticized me is also quoted here».

Viganò may have figured, as it was private correspondence, he could use the part of Ratzinger’s message praising Bergoglio, and forget about the refusal and the puzzlement.

Yet hours after the edited letter was published, the original one was handed to the press, revealing Viganò’s intervention and forcing his resignation.

The case was then closed. But actually the case is not closed.

In any serious government things would have not stopped here. Viganò may have been too solicitous to please Bergoglio and too numb to Ratzinger’s opinions, but when someone handed private correspondence of a pope about the Pope to the press it is something entirely different. It is betrayal.

In China, an authoritarian country, people would be shot for this; in America, a democracy, they would more modestly go to prison; in true dictatorships the culprit would be liquefied in sulfuric acid.

In the Vatican, nobody was even reprimanded for this. As far as we know there was not even an investigation and the traitor is still at large. Surely, as it was a handwritten message only a very small number of people saw the letter and had it in their hands. It would be very easy to find who they were.

Now we may feel the traitor was in fact no traitor at all, because he defended Ratzinger against Viganò’s neglects. But in normal governments, if someone disagrees with any action, he can write, voice his concern. Is this not possible in the Vatican? Does the Dictator Pope take his critics to sinister Vatican dungeons?

As far as we know things are not that bad! Even the “infamous” Gianantonio Colonna, Mr. H. J. A. Sire, decided to shed his pseudonym and revel in his book’s glory.

The real issue then is different, and mindboggling, as Italian political analyst Lucio Caracciolo recently quipped. How can Bergoglio be both pope and Francis, the spiritual ruler of over the 1 billion souls and the man who revolutionized the Church but never wanted to rule it?

Thus, can the church be ruled by a Francis, a non ruler? It sounds like Laozi’s paradox, wu wei, acting without acting, what does it mean? It can’t be.

About a century after Laozi a Chinese seminal thinker Hanfei zi gave an interpretation: wu wei meant the ruler had to set up a government system that could run by itself, without him taking any action. It was the theory of a superefficient state that could unify all of China. It was a perfect dictatorship – without the action of the dictator.

A motley assembly of hundreds of thousands of priests and nuns coming in all diverse habits and cassocks, a billion faithful, seven billion humans, this the basin of the Catholic church and it is definitely not a perfect dictatorship; and the pope is no dictator, just by looking at the secrets spilling out left and right. Then the question for a layman remains: how can the Church work?

True believers think that if it works, and with so many followers in the world, it does, it is evidence of the existence of the Holy Spirit. After all it is all about the communion of faith, the trust of the faithful, it is not like 300 Swiss guards with halberds and striped trousers from Rome can police the hearts and minds of a billion baptized worldwide.

Skeptics tend conversely to think that books like these and leaks like those prove rather that the Church needs more not less governing, that time may be superior to space, but sometimes putting off decisions is the big decision and it may make issues bigger not smaller. After all the Church also believes in “help yourself, and God will help you”. But is it always true? And when would be the right time?

When we asked we didn’t get any answer. At least this is clear: the apparatus of a dictator pope would have proclaimed an answer.

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