Marcantonio Colonna, the pseudonymous author of The Dictator Pope, has said the Vatican is trying to discover his identity. The book was published as a Kindle edition last week and has caused consternation with its claims about Pope Francis’s reign.
Speaking to the Catholic Herald over email, Colonna claimed that the Pope had been given a list of possible names.
“A person in England was misidentified as the author at one point and immediately received threatening telephone calls from Rome,” Colonna said. “I now hear that Vatican officials have laid before the Pope a shortlist of six people who they think may be the possible author. I suspect that it’s not for the purpose of awarding a literary prize.”
Asked whether he thought his anonymity would last, Colonna said: “Under the present Pope, the Vatican machine has taken espionage to a new level, and I have little doubt that they will unmask me eventually, perhaps after a few more false casts. But they will need to ask themselves whether it is at the cost of giving me more publicity.”
Colonna believes his book has “hit a vein of disillusionment with Francis’s papacy which the mainstream media have missed”.
Some critics have suggested Colonna’s book is mere gossip. For instance, it draws on a supposed report by the Jesuit superior general Fr Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, commissioned when Fr Jorge Bergoglio was proposed as a bishop in Argentina. Fr Kolvenbach’s report allegedly stated that Fr Bergoglio was “unsuitable for such an appointment” because of character defects, which he went on to describe. (The report has since disappeared.)
Asked why the reader should believe this, Colonna replied: “The account I give of the report in my book is not based on rumour. It’s based on first-hand information I received from a priest who read the report when it was first issued, and who was fully in the know of the ecclesiastical process involved.”
Colonna says his concern is not primarily to cover the recent doctrinal controversies in the Church. “My purpose was simply to show the gulf that exists between the image of the liberal, democratic Pope Francis and the true character of this pontificate,” he said. “That is something that ought to give all Catholics cause for concern.”