VATICAN CITY — The author of a highly critical book about Pope Francis, entitled “The Dictator Pope,” has been suspended by the Knights of Malta lay religious order.
In a statement Thursday, the order said it disassociated itself from the book and condemned the “vile attack against the pope.” It said author and member Henry Sire was suspended pending the results of an investigation.
Britain’s The Tablet first reported the suspension.
Sire lived in the Knights’ grand palazzo in Rome during 2013-2017 while researching an official history of the order, entitled “The Knights of Malta: A Modern Resurrection,” which was published in 2016. “The Dictator Pope” was published electronically in November under the pen name Marcantonio Colonna. Recently, Sire’s true identity was published in conservative Catholic media.
In an email to The Associated Press, Sire said he always intended for his true identity to emerge when print editions of the book were published. He disputed the order’s characterization that “The Dictator Pope” was an attack on Francis.
“I need hardly point out that my object in the book was to defend the true sanctity of the papal office against an incumbent who, as many Catholics now see, falls notably short of the character that has been expected of a pope for centuries,” he wrote.
It paints a sometimes brutal portrait of the pope that even some of his supporters say bears some truth.
“When the television cameras aren’t rolling, Pope Francis transforms into another person: arrogant, standoffish with people, vulgar in his language and famous for his violent outbursts of anger that are known to all, from cardinals to car drivers,” Sire wrote.
It lays out the questionable results of five years of “reform” in the Vatican bureaucracy, criticizes Francis’ opening to the divorced and civilly remarried Catholics and traces the tortured 2016-2017 government crisis in the Knights of Malta that Sire witnessed firsthand while living in the palazzo.
The crisis, sparked by a condom distribution scandal, ended when Francis intervened to oust the Knights’ leader. The papal intervention was remarkable given the Knights are a sovereign order, with many of the trappings of a sovereign state.
In its statement, the order said Sire’s reconstruction of the crisis was based on a “biased and one-sided reconstruction of events.”
It said the book as a whole “does not reflect in any way the positions and beliefs of the Order of Malta and the author is not speaking on behalf of the order.”
In his email, Sire said he doesn’t expect all Catholics to share his opinion, much less the order “which has been under the tight control of the Vatican ever since the papal intervention of January 2017.”
He added that he wrote “The Dictator Pope” after his work as a historian was “terminated” in 2017 thanks to Francis’ ouster of the Knights of Malta’s grand master, Fra’ Matthew Festing.
So far, only “suspended”?
I’m sure every other possible punishment is in store.
You don’t dare criticize The Dictator Pope and expect “mercy” or “discernment” or “accompaniment” or, God forbid, “dialogue.”
Suspended for criticizing a pope. Seems rather dictatorial, no?
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On “Fr Hunwicke’s Mutual Enrichment” blog, after noting that the method of Henry Sire’s suspension from The Order Of Malta was illegal, Father says:
“It all reminds me of the treatment of the Franciscans of the Immaculate … the same operational assumption that Law doesn’t really matter much once some bully decides that someone else needs a good kicking.
No wonder Raymond Burke had to be sacked. He might have given ‘wrong’ decisions.”
Three very good points: the hypocritical illegal sacking of the author from the OoM; that in the Vatican there are infiltrated “bullies” who don’t practice what they preach (re RJB’s comment above); and lastly, Card. Burke and other faithful, orthodox clerics have to be ousted for giving the true Catholic answers, and not towing the Modernist, unCatholic line of the progressives!
Lots of strong worldwide support coming in from traditional Catholics for Henry J. Sire (like that after his remark on Twitter yesterday), despite the noisy angry recriminations from the lib supporters of Pope Francis. Sire says:
“Dear friends, it’s been a rather hectic week. Happily, my suspension from the Order has been botched, and I’m terribly grateful to @ctrlamb @austeni @MassimoFaggioli and many critics for doing so much to propel my book to global bestseller status. The attacks? Sticks & stones… “
Author of “The Dictator Pope” suspended by order tightly controlled by the Vatican … as if to prove a point.