June 28, 2019 (Steven O’Reilly) – In part 1 of this series (see The “Influential Italian Gentleman”), we looked at the somewhat mysterious figure of the “influential Italian gentleman” (ITG) who visited the ex-Cardinal McCarrick at the NAC sometime about (March 2, 2013). The ITG, per McCarrick, asked McCarrick to ‘talk up Bergoglio’ in the upcoming preparatory meetings (beginning March 4. 2013) for the papal conclave (March 12, 2013).
In part 1, I explained my view why the ITG was not one of the masons suggested by others. The profile I suggested is as follows. The ITG is not necessarily “influential” in a civic or business sense. He is “influential” in that he is well known and respected in Catholic circles in Rome, that is, in the Vatican, the Curia and among the Sacred College of Cardinals. His notoriety is probably based on the fact the ITG is, perhaps, involved with one or more Catholic charities on a global basis, or perhaps he is something of a Catholic media personality, or perhaps he is a Catholic writer or journalist.
As to whether he acted alone, I opined, based on McCarrick’s account alone, that one cannot conclude there was necessarily any conspiracy. While the ITG does seem to know Bergoglio (e.g., “I know you are his friend“) and is certainly a Bergoglian partisan (e.g., “talk him up”), it is still possible the ITG acted on his own based on his own personal friendship and preference for Bergoglio, and was not acting at the behest or direction of anyone else. 
The above said, I believe it more likely the ITG was sent. For one, like me, who tends to believe “there are no such thing as coincidences,” there are just too many coincidences — as I explained in Part 1. For example, as I argued in the last article, the phrase used by the ITG (‘five years of Bergoglio’) is strangely similar to the line (‘four years of Bergoglio’) which appeared in a Vatican Insider article earlier that day , but which also appears to have been something of a talking point used by more than one cardinal close to Cardinal Bergoglio (see discussion of this point also in part 1).
Further, it is known that following the election of Pope Francis, Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor had said he had learned from Team Bergoglio’s failures in the 2005 conclave the importance of talking up ones candidate at the outset to give him a ‘head start’ going into the conclave, a point that fits with the ITG’s visit to McCarrick. Per Maike Hickson’s book review, in Gerald O’Connor’s book (The Election of Pope Francis), it is said Murphy-O’Connor revealed that the (still) as of yet untold story of the election of Bergoglio was the winning of the Asian and African cardinals to his side:
“when the history of the conclave is written it will be shown that over the week of the General Congregations, a small minority helped lead the cardinals to understand that the front-runners (Scola, Scherrer, and Ouellet) were not the men to lead the Church at this time in history, and that the only candidate was Bergoglio”
On this point, McCarrick could be of great assistance, as he was well-traveled to third world countries where he was well-known to Asian and African cardinals. As the third world cardinals do not travel as much, they are not as familiar with their fellow cardinals, and are thus at a disadvantage. Thus, McCarrick was uniquely positioned to play a role in influencing them (see here).
Some Outstanding Questions Needing Answers
As I indicated in part 1 (see The “Influential Italian Gentleman”), it is not clear to me what if any violation of Universis Domenic Gregis (UDG) occurred — even if we assume Cardinal Bergoglio sent the Italian gentleman. Based on my non-expert reading of UDG, I don’t see anything that really applies here, except for portions of UDG 80, but even then I find that doubtful. Still, there are still a few questions I have, if for nothing else, the historical record.
McCarrick, of course, should be asked by a group of Cardinals:
- “what is the name and occupation of the “influential Italian gentleman?”
- “What was date and time of the visit?”
- Did the visitor represent himself, explicitly or implicitly, as coming at the behest of Cardinal Bergoglio or Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor or any other cardinal or any other individual or group of individuals?
- If “no” to #3, did McCarrick understand this to be the case, even if left unsaid?
- Did McCarrick, in fact, “talk up Bergoglio” to other cardinals as requested?
- Was there any quid pro quo, stated or implied or expected, for McCarrick’s assistance in ‘talking up Bergoglio’?
- Did McCarrick ever speak with this layman again after the first encounter and before the conclave (March 12)?
For Pope Francis and his inner circle of close cardinals and laymen, here are some of the questions that an investigative panel of Cardinals might ask of them:
- Did Cardinal Bergoglio, the late Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, or any cardinal or layman known to them send any layman to any cardinal prior to the preparatory meeting and or during them? Who?
- If so, what is (are) the name(s) and occupation(s) of this/these individual(s)?
- If “yes” to #1, did the ITG provide information back to Bergoglio, Murphy-O’Connor, etc., regarding the nature and content of any discussions the ITG had with McCarrick and or any other cardinal either before or during the preparatory meetings?
- Cardinal Scola apparently was seemingly the ‘man to beat’ going into the conclave, and indeed led the first round of the vote. Did Cardinal Bergoglio or any one on Team Bergoglio or anyone known to them communicate with any Italian state official, police official or prosecutor, or with any other party with potential links such officials regarding expected vote tallies as of March 11; and or did you have foreknowledge that there would be or potentially could be an anti-mafia, police raid at dawn on March 12 just before the Cardinals entered the conclave, targeting archdiocesan offices under Cardinal Scola?
Steven O’Reilly is a graduate of the University of Dallas and the Georgia Institute of Technology. A former Intelligence Officer, he and his wife, Margaret, live near Atlanta with their family. He has written apologetic articles and is working on a historical-adventure trilogy, entitled Pia Fidelis, set during the time of the Arian crisis. The first book of the Pia Fidelis trilogy. The Two Kingdoms, should be out later this summer or by early fall 2019 (Follow on twitter at @fidelispia for updates). He asks for your prayers for his intentions. He can be contacted at StevenOReilly@AOL.com (or follow on Twitter: @S_OReilly_USA).
- One might ask, isn’t it possible McCarrick made the whole incident up? Certainly, all things are possible. However, I don’t see why he would make the whole thing up. If he were so inclined, there are more elaborate stories he might have made up, that suited his narcissistic tendencies. Given his narcissism, he wanted to tell the story because it underlines his importance (NB: again, see The “Influential Italian Gentleman”), i.e., that someone want him to ‘talk up Bergoglio.’ That said, I am inclined to believe that McCarrick is dishonest in what his story excludes. My hunch, and it is only a hunch at the moment, is that McCarrick leaves out important details to obstruct efforts to better guess who the visitor is. This he did in order to protect those he or those who sent the ITG.
- Andrea Tornielli, Vatican Insider. “Tentazione sudamericana per il primo Papa extraeuropeo: L’ipotesi di un Pontefice latinoamericano per dare un forte segnale di cambiamento”, (3/2/2013, last modified 11:50am 3/2/2013) (see here)