William Kilpatrick is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. His books include Christianity, Islam, and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West (Ignatius Press), What Catholics Need to Know About Islam (Sophia Press), and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Jihad.
“A non-Catholic Pope”? It sounds like a contradiction in terms. But those are the words used to describe Pope Francis by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. In fact, he rarely uses the term “Pope Francis.” He refers to him instead as “Bergoglio” and to his pontificate as the “Bergoglian papacy.”
Vigano has a following in some Catholic circles but it’s likely that the vast majority of Catholics have never heard of him. Yet the questions he raises about Pope Francis are of great consequence, not just for Catholics but for non-Catholics as well.
Since there are about 1.3 billion Catholics in the world, whoever leads them can have a significant effect on a large segment of the global population. It’s widely thought, for instance, that Pope John Paul II did more to put an end to communism in Eastern Europe than any other individual with the exception of Ronald Reagan. For evidence of the close collaboration between the two men, read historian Paul Kengor’s revealing book, A Pope and a President.
Now we have a new pope and a new president and neither of them seem terribly concerned about the revival of communist power throughout the world. In fact, both men have surrounded themselves with left-leaning advisors and appointees.
In addition, both Francis and Biden have effectively rolled back the agendas of their immediate predecessors. This is obvious in the case of Biden because the reversal has been swift and abrupt. The reversal that Francis has engineered is less noticeable since it has been more gradual, but the resulting change in the Catholic Church has been every bit as radical as the one now taking place in American government and society.
Archbishop Vigano links the two together. He talks of a coup in America and other Western nations led by secular leftist ideologues, and a coup in the Catholic Church led by Bergoglio and the progressive Catholics who surround him.
However, the coup in the Church has been a more silent one. Catholic writers who have studied Francis’s career describe him as a skillful–even Machiavellian–manipulator. According to them, all his actions are shrouded in a deliberate fog. Consequently, most Catholics remain unaware of the magnitude of the changes. It is only when a priest or prelate resists Francis that “the dictator pope” (the title of Henry Sire’s book about Francis) reveals himself. Just as the Biden administration is seeking to purge conservatives from government and the military, Francis seeks to purge traditional Catholics from the Church. And since some of the strongest resistance to Francis comes from adherents of the Latin Mass, he has acted to suppress the Latin Mass. Meanwhile, some conservative prelates find themselves demoted to obscure outposts, and others live in fear that false charges of sex abuse could land them in jail (as happened to Australian Cardinal George Pell).
Moreover, since Francis has been promoting progressive prelates to high posts for nine years, it looks likely that his “anti-Catholic” (Vigano’s term) brand of Catholicism will continue to dominate. Because Francis has carefully packed the College of Cardinals (who elect the next pope) with men made in his own image, we shouldn’t be surprised if the next Pope takes the name, Pope Francis II.
You’ve heard of the “deep state;” Vigano maintains that there is also a “deep church”—a network of progressive prelates who, together with Francis, plan to change the face of the Church beyond recognition. Moreover, the deep state and the deep church reinforce each other:
The deep church and deep state are nothing other than two parallel tracks which run in the same direction and have as their final destination the New World Order, with its religion and its prophet.
Vigano points out that although Francis is “universally considered as the head of the Church,” he is at the same time a “liquidator” of the Church:
His dual role as pope and liquidator of the Catholic Church allows him on the one hand to demolish it with decrees and acts of governance, and on the other hand to use the prestige that his office entails to establish and spread the new religion over the rubble of the old one.
The “new religion” which Francis hopes to usher in is, according to Vigano, a humanist and progressive one— “the religion of Mankind, an ecumenical and ecological one.” This new religion will also result in “the legitimization of Evil,” and the persecution of good people.”
If all of this—this notion of a non-Catholic pope who seeks to liquidate the Church—seems outlandish and inconceivable, consider that only a short time ago, the notion of a communist-ruled USA also seemed inconceivable. It seemed inconceivable that Americans would elect as president a man who would immediately set about to demolish American history, values, and institutions. But that is what seem to be happening.
As far as I know, Vigano has never actually said that Francis is not the pope, but he has implied as much. The evidence that he and others present can be divided into four categories:
- Evidence that Pope Benedict’s resignation was invalid
- Evidence that the election of Francis was rigged
- Evidenced of widespread corruption in the Francis papacy.
- Evidence that Francis embraces heresy.
Whether or not Vigano makes the case is a subject for another time. The point I want make here is that, despite the gravity of the charges against Francis, the response has been muted. Neither Francis nor the Vatican has ever responded to Vigano’s explosive “testimony” in 2018 accusing Francis and other prelates of covering up Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s long history of sex abuse. Francis said that he would trust the media to come to the proper conclusion; and the media obliged by ignoring Vigano’s charges altogether.
Likewise, the Francis-friendly media has had little to say about Vigano’s claim that Francis is not a legitimate pope. As a result, the average Catholic is unaware that there is a problem. Most Catholics would be surprised to learn that although Francis has frequently promised to put an end to clerical sex-abuse, he surrounds himself with abusers and enablers and promotes them to high office. Likewise, most Catholics would be surprised to discover that although Francis verbally condemns abortion, he sees to it that prominent advocates of abortion are invited to Vatican conferences, and he sometimes showers them with praise.
Moreover, although he states that abortion is murder, he intervened to prevent the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) from voting to deny communion to President Biden because of Biden’s flagrant pro-abortion policy. According to Vigano, Francis is a master of duplicity whose modus operandi is to say one thing to please the pew-sitters, and to do the opposite in order to please the worldly elites.
It should be noted that Vigano has recently been a bit more in the public eye because of two letters he wrote to Donald Trump, and because of Trump’s positive response to them. As a result, some in the liberal Catholic press have mounted a vigorous campaign to discredit him. For example, the Jesuit-run magazine America dismisses him as just another right-wing conspiracy theorist who ought to be wearing a MAGA hat instead of a bishop’s cap.
The foundation for the conspiracy-theorist charge is that Vigano says what a growing number of Americans believe about a deep state increasingly controlled by global elites intent on reducing average people to the status of worker bees. He speaks disparagingly of the New World Order, and the machinations of the Rockefeller Foundation, The World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, and Bill Gates. Furthermore, in contrast to Francis, he sees the Covid pandemic as an invented crisis which is intended to create a more docile population. Finally, Vigano often talks in apocalyptic terms. He speaks of death and judgement, heaven and hell, Satan’s war against heaven, the Second Coming of Christ, and the “Mark of the Beast.” To the modern ear and to many modern Christians such talk is embarrassing, but through the ages most Christians have regarded such signs and prophesies not as the ravings of extremists, but as the revealed word of God.
Vigano has a good grip on science, finance, and politics, yet he does sometimes sound more like a 19th century pope than a 21st century prelate. This is actually quite refreshing because many modern clergymen have learned to talk in a corporate-therapeutic lingo that is devoid of any depth. Take this tweet sent out by the USCCB to prepare Catholics for the upcoming “Synod on Synodality:”
Here are seven attitudes we can all adopt as we continue our synodal journey together. Which one inspires you the most?
- Innovative Outlook
“Which one inspires you the most?” But these psychobabble buzzwords aren’t meant to inspire, they’re meant to put to sleep—to distract people from the crucial issues that face the Church today such as the issue of “a pope who does not behave like a pope and does not speak like a pope.”
Vigano wants to wake up the sheep and so it seems quite fitting that he uses the strong language of the Bible to arouse people from their slumber. While other bishops babble on about “inclusivity,” “dialogue,” and “open-mindedness,” it’s somehow reassuring that at least one bishop points to the very disturbing signs of the time.
It’s easy enough to dismiss Vigano as a paranoid conspiracy theorist, but let’s not forget that the Bible contains many admonitions to be alert to the signs of the time, and many warnings about “spiritual” leaders who are not what they seem. One of the warnings goes like this:
Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Mt. 7: 15.
Of course, it’s not easy to discern a false prophet when he is dressed in sheep’s clothing. It would be more difficult still if he were dressed as a shepherd.