Controversial Book about Pope Francis: “The Dictator Pope”


I am just about done with this.  It’s quite a read.  Among other things it is a summary of events of the last few years.

At the pace of the modern world, one forgets.

It is in English, too.  Links below.

Originally posted 1 Dec:

I have had many emails asking me about the new book by the pseudo-anonymous “Marcantonio Colonna” called Il Papa Dittatore (The Dictator Pope).

In Italian – US HERE – UK HERE

It is available IN ENGLISH


It is not flattering.  Some of it resonates with what I have picked up in my last visits to Rome and conservations with friends who still labor there.  There is a really bad environment in Rome right now.  The tension is so thick that you could cut it with chainsaw… maybe.

REMEMBER: Most of you do not have to read this stuff.  Some of us do.  Most do not.  Be wary, in yourself, of the vice of curiositas.  Yes, there is a kind of “curiosity” which leads to sin.

Also, I think this is only for Kindle.

So… here’s your chance to get a Kindle!

If you don’t have one already, what’s up with that?

There are several to choose from.  This is the Paperwhite.  I have one of these and it is marvelous.


There are several iterations of the gizmo.  Some connect only to WiFi, others also to cellular data (its a great feature for travel, but it costs more).  Some have “ads” some don’t (its cheaper if you allow the “rest” screen to suggest books).

It’s “backlit”.  The battery lasts for many hours.  Books download in a jiffy.  You can share most books, and with a level of membership you can read many titles for free.

If you have have more than one Kindle, which will also play audiobooks from Audible, they will “sync” with each other, so you can start on another instrument without searching for your page.  Spiffy.

I dearly love “real” books.  However, I read a lot more books now than I did before.  The Kindle is light and small and stores zillions of titles.   Also, there are some books which I don’t want to buy and have lying around afterward.  I have so many books in my place and in storage that it could be a set for a scene in a dystopian movie.  (Yes, squirrel away a Kindle with lots of “survival” and reference materials in a Faraday cage while you can.)

Anyway, back to the book in question.

You don’t have to tell me about it, I already have it (I was provided with it a while ago).

I am told that there will be an English language version.  I don’t know when.

No, I won’t tell you the author’s real name (a question that has come up several times in email).  Won’t. Do. It… unless the author says it’s okay, and by then it will be out anyway.  So, stop asking that, please.


Fr. Hunwicke has some comments.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. majuscule says:

    You can preorder in English. Use Father’s Amazon link and search for “Dictator Pope”.

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  3. Charivari Rob says:

    “…so many books in my place and in storage that it could be a set for a scene in a dystopian movie. (Yes, squirrel away a Kindle with lots of “survival” and reference materials in a Faraday cage while you can.)”

    Better include some fundamental spares in the survival material, or else end up like poor Burgess Meredith’s character in that Twilight Zone episode:

    …by the way, Father Z – has interface format changed or is my browser just being difficult again? I don’t see a preview button anymore.

    [It was screwing up the comment box on mobile devices. One of these days, I’ll have someone who know what he’s doing revamp this blog. Sigh.]

  4. Therese1895 says:

    Father, I hope this isn’t a stupid question, but would you recommend this to someone who works/is friends with confused Catholics and non-Catholics and wants to have a slightly better grasp and answer than, “Idk, I just try to ignore him as much as possible and pray and read St. John of the Cross” to questions about what’s going on? Not seeking to pope-bash- I abhor that!- but I want to be educated in what all is going on!
    Or is there a better source for the layman? I was in a convent for 2.5 years, so I’m hopelessly behind on most current events, secular and Church-related.

  5. Therese1895 says:

    Oops. I don’t mean ignore the Pope. Heaven forbid! I mean stay out of controversies and Church politics. But I’m finding I need to know more for the sake of others.

  6. VexillaRegis says:

    Having had a boss or two of the Pope’s kind, I’m inclined to agree with Fr. Hunwicke that “The whole game is not yet played out”. God have mercy upon us!

  7. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    For the sake of my own soul, I do not think I should read any more true dirt about the Holy Father.

    I have enough trouble fostering filial love within myself toward him now just from news snippets about the lobbyist Conclave, the rigged synod, his various appointments which speak volumes, his various firings which speak volumes, the kind of men (Daneels, Spadaro, etc) he surrounds himself with, his handling of conservative priests and orders, etc, etc. He clearly runs the Vatican like a South American dictator. I’d prefer not to know any more gritty details unless knowing them helps reform the problem.

  8. APX says:

    REMEMBER: Most of you do not have to read this stuff. Some of us do. Most do not. Be wary, in yourself, of the vice of curiositas. Yes, there is a kind of “curiosity” which leads to sin.
    This needs to be stated to more Traditionalists.

  9. majuscule says:

    For what it’s worth, the book was just this hour automatically delivered to my Kindle. If you pre ordered it, go check yours.

  10. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Reading the book — it has some pretty good explanations of Pope Francis’ actions, based on the pattern of his past, as well as his influences.

    Pastors and bishops are human, and so is the Pope. He’s our brother, and we should pray for him to overcome his sins and imperfections, with God’s help. But it should also help us not to view him unrealistically, which is not a loving way to view anyone. We should care about real people, not illusions we make up about them, or that they make up for the world. Our God is Truth Himself.

    That said, not everybody has to read this book if they don’t want to. If you’re the kind of person who broods and gets bitter, probably better to avoid it. But if you’re the kind of person who keeps wondering what the heck the Pope is thinking, and that’s what’s been bothering you, this is probably a book you should read. You may not like the answers, but you’ll have some; and that’s its own kind of peace.

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  12. clare joseph says:

    I’ve just looked at this book on the Amazon website. If you click on the book’s icon, you’ll then be invited to look inside. The ‘sample’ text supplied is generous … more material than I was interested in reading. Much of what is presented in the pages shown will already be familiar to those who have been ‘watching’ thus far.

  13. Anneliese says:

    I’m intrigued by the book. I hope to read it soon. The article in the Catholic Herald says the anonymous author describes themselves as Oxford-educated. If the person is British, I wonder if it’s the lovely Edward Pentin?

  14. Charles E Flynn says:

    While Kindle devices have all of the laudable properties Father Z has described, you do not need to have a Kindle device to read books in Kindle format. Amazon provides free software that allows you to read Kindle books on Macintosh and PC computers, and iOS and Android devices:

    For the record, Safari for Macintosh Version 11.0.1 (12604. shows no Preview button.

  15. MisterH says:

    Father Z,

    Since you seem to be indicating that you know who the author is, can you tell us whether he is someone you consider to be a fairly reliable source?


    [I believe him to be reliable and honest.]

  16. Peter Stuart says:

    Not going to read… the word of Fr. and other good reviewers is good enough for me. I’m just hoping that if and when the MercyBus rolls out of here, Danneels and Martin and Cupich and McElroy and the rest roll out with it… and that us struggling SSAs under it don’t get run over.

  17. jbazchicago says:

    Hate to be paranoid, but these are troubling times.
    Bought the book on Amazon in the only format available. I’m considering printing it out.
    Is it possible for some savvy person to withdraw my electronic copy?
    Can it just disappear someday because friends of Evita found it unflattering?
    Curious, and serious?
    Any help from someone techno-savvy would be most welcome!

    [Relax. Just read it, don’t print it out right now.]

  18. F-14_Dave says:

    Interesting trend regarding Papal audience attendance.

    Excerpted from the book:

    “The official statistics for average attendance at these events since Francis became Pope are given as follows:
    2013: 51,617
    2014: 27,883
    2015: 14,818
    For 2016 no figures have been made available, but they are understood to be under 10,000: less than one fifth of what they were four years ago, and in Benedict XVI’s time.”

    Colonna, Marcantonio. The Dictator Pope (Kindle Locations 2668-2672). Kindle Edition.

  19. Charles E Flynn says:

    There is a review by Robert Royal at . He will discuss the book tomorrow night on EWTN with Fr. Gerald Murray and Raymond Arroyo.

  20. cathgrl says:

    Anneliese, Edward Pentin’s educational history is on his LinkedIn page. Oxford is not mentioned on there. So I don’t think so.

  21. ChrisP says:

    I have just finished this book. I cannot help but feel Benedict knew this was coming and has been asked to stand by in Gesthemane. At least we know who is doing the kissing and who is exchanging the silver.

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