Latest News

‘Dictator Pope’ book causes stir in Rome

A woman walks past an anti-Pope Francis poster in Rome (Getty Images)

A search is on for the author of a new book about the Pope which accuses him of being a “dictator”.

Published on Kindle in English and in Italian, The Dictator Pope appears under the pseudonym “Marcantonio Colonna”, the name of an admiral who fought at the Battle of Lepanto.

Colonna claims to be an Oxford-educated historian now based in Rome. His book tells the story of Francis’s pontificate, as well as his life before becoming Pope.

Journalist Tess Livingstone wrote in The Australian that the book’s publication has “sparked a frantic witch-hunt” in Rome.

The Dictator Pope draws on a wide range of material including confidential sources within the Vatican.

It interprets Francis as a particularly Argentine figure, “Juan Perón in ecclesiastical translation”. As president of Argentina, Perón would appear to agree with everyone, telling parties from different sides that they were correct. This explains, Colonna argues, the Pope’s mixture of liberal and conservative statements. But The Dictator Pope also suggests that, when in Argentina, Archbishop Bergoglio moved from a more doctrinally conservative position to a more liberal one.

The book is at times harsh – it quotes one priest who reportedly worked with Archbishop Bergoglio in Argentina for years as saying: “The guy manipulates you with the affections.”

Much of the book consists of close analysis of the various controversies which have characterised Francis’s time in office, including the family synod, the reform of Vatican finances and the dispute over the Knights of Malta. Colonna claims that the Pope has become unaccountable, and that the atmosphere within the Vatican is primarily one of fear. Francis is compared to Paul IV, “a zealot for religious poverty” whose papacy “ended in political scandal and popular riots against his violent unpopularity”.