Team Francis Bungled Hit Job?
I know why the Pope’s hardline allies, known as Team Francis, indulged Martel.They wanted a hit job on their conservative enemies; he was writing this book and they saw their chance. But, since the would-be assassin knew so little about the church — he seems to think that only bishops are addressed as ‘monsignor’ — they had to guide his hand, not just towards Burke et al but away from the Pope. Thus Martel goes to Argentina to write about Francis’s background, but not all of it: the allegation that he covered up child abuse there ‘lies outside the scope of this book’. Likewise, conveniently, the alleged wrongdoings of the Pope’s close ally Cardinal Maradiaga.
Unfortunately for Team Francis, they have landed themselves in The Pink Panther rather than The Day of the Jackal. Edward Fox’s assassin may have narrowly failed in his mission, but at least he didn’t hit the wrong target. Martel’s Inspector Clouseau accidentally wounds the Supreme Pontiff — by revealing that, according to the Pope’s own entourage, Francis knew about the sins of ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick years ago and chose to do nothing.
That is really the only story in this book. It’s true that Martel confirms that the Vatican is full of gossipy queens, most of whom stare at waiters’ bottoms and some of whom have sex with young men. But I think we knew that already.
As I said last night, that is going to be one question on my mind as I read it: why would any cardinal or bishop talk to this guy Martel? It seems to me that Thompson must be right, and Martel had to have carried with him the implied blessing of Francis, probably via Antonio Spadaro, SJ.
UPDATE: For what it’s worth, I intend to post as many commentaries that I find interesting as I can. I can’t wait to read Andrew Sullivan’s take on this, which will be out tomorrow. I know that he is a big fan of the book. Whatever he writes will be worth reading, even if I end up disagreeing with it.