Top Ten Roma Locuta Est Posts of 2019

December 30, 2019 (Steven O’Reilly) –  Roma Locuta Est is now approaching the end of its third year of existence (2nd full year). Last year this site recapped its year by listing the Top posts of 2018.  The tradition now continues into 2019.

Before proceeding to the Top Ten List of posts written in 2019, I’d note that other 2019, and even some older posts from 2018, continue to draw a good deal of traffic — at least in terms of this wee, humble blog.  Roma Locuta Est posts that rebut various “Benedict is Pope” (BiP) arguments continue to draw significant traffic (e.g.  Benedict is Still Pope and Other ErrorsThe Testimony of a former Benevacantist, and Did Pope Benedict XVI resign because of threats? No.).

In 2018, Stephen Walford’s defense of his interpretation of Amoris Laetitia was published in a book entitled The Pope, The Family, and Divorce.  Roma Locuta Est‘s rebuttal of that book continues to do well (see The Errors of Mr. Walford’s ‘Pope Francis, The Family and Divorce’) [NB: In 2019, Pedro Gabriel of Where Peter Is also offered an article with views similar to Walford’s on the ‘doctrine of mitigating circumstances. Our rebuttal of Gabriel may be found here (On the Doctrine of Mitigating Circumstances)].

The “historicity of miracles” series of articles also continues to do well (see The Historicity of the Crucifixion Darkness and The Historicity of Miracles: The case of Julian the Apostate and a lesson for our time) [NB: the figure of Julian the Apostate is an important character in my new historical fiction book, PIA FIDELIS). Contributing writer Ed Barr’s 2018 article on Father Sudac also remains a top viewed article in 2019 (see Father Sudac and the Reality of Evil).  And, finally, an even older article from 2017 (The Night I Booed Sir Paul McCartney) — a veritable blast from the past — continues to draw a surprisingly high number of hits–and nasty emails and comments along with it.

The Top Ten rankings below are based upon total views.  And now…without further ado….

THE TOP TEN LIST of 2019 Roma Locuta Est Articles


Number Ten: Mark Shea – aka he who exudes the “Odor of Sanctimony” – and other apologetic hacks.

The Francis-apologists cannot seem to be bothered to understand those who have a difficulties with Pope Francis. It is not lightly I have come to my opinions regarding Pope Francis. Thus, I can only roll my eyes at the insipid smugness displayed by various “Francis-apologists.” of the likes of Mark Shea — known on Roma Locuta Est as “he who exudes the odor of sanctimony” — whose article, entitled “I do not understand people who struggle to understand this pope”, prompted the Number Ten entry in our countdown. Other Roma Locuta Est articles in 2019 have addressed other Francis-apologists who seem to have difficult understanding why so many faithful Catholics are sincerely troubled by the current pontificate, such as Scott Eric Alt (see Alt right vs. Alt wrong…which Alt is Alt?), Where Peter Is (see  The Confusion of the Francis-Apologists), and Stephen Walford (Mr. Walford’s “appeal” and why it rings hollow).


Number Nine: 2013 Conclave: Was there a violation of Universi Dominici Gregis 12?

The Number Nine article on the countdown list looks at the evidence for what appears to me to be a violation of Universi Domenici Gregis (UDG) 12.  The evidence appeared in Francis-friendly Gerard O’Connell’s book, The Election of Pope Francis. If Murphy-O’Connor was the source of O’Connell’s information discussed in this article and if the provision of this information constituted a violation of UDG 12; this should negataively impact our assessment of Murphy-O’Connor’s credibility when assessing his denials of other potential or supposed violations of UDG involving himself or others in the St. Gallen mafia. 


Number Eight:  If they would interfere in a presidential election — why not a papal one?

This article in the countdown (If they would interfere in a presidential election — why not a papal one?) looks at the Deep State coup against President Trump and wonders if former President Obama and higher-ups in US intelligence and law enforcement could have conspired against a presidential candidate and then a sitting president; would such people (i.e., Obama) shrink from conspiring against a pope if it suited his world view?


Number Seven: Curiouser and Curiouser: Who Dispensed Jorge Bergoglio SJ from his vows?

The number seven entry in the countdown is unique to the list. An earlier version of the article was originally penned in August in 2017.  There have been many subsequent updates over the years as research has continued, including this past year. The idea for the article originated within Jesuit circles in the year following the election of Jorge Bergoglio S.J. The issue, in a nutshell, was this: Jesuits profess a number of vows. A couple of these vows certainly appear to be obstacles or at least serve as a speed bumps for a Jesuit who might become a pope – unless the obligations of these vows were dispensed by the proper religious authority.

I was intrigued by the thought there were doubts whether Jorge Bergoglio S.J. had been properly dispensed from his vows. I was also puzzled by the Jesuit writers I’ve come across – and who idolize Francis, but who are at the same time rather clumsy and weak in their attempts to explain the issue of the vow away. It seemed to me there might be an exposed raw nerve here. The relevant Jesuit vow is given here (emphasis added):

“I also promise that I will never strive for or ambitioany prelacy or dignity outside the Society; and I will to the best of my ability never consent to my election unless I am forced to do so by obedience to him who can order me under penalty of sin.” (see here)

If – hypothetically – Jorge Bergoglio, S.J., was still subject to his vows going into the conclave of 2013, he should not have accepted his election–and indeed, it seems, he could not accept it. While his election might have been valid in form and procedure, would his acceptance of the papacy have been null and void because he was not free – per his vows to God – to give it [e.g., “the Lord thy God will require it” (see Deuteronomy 23:21)]? Therefore, looking at the election of Jorge Bergoglio, S.J., to the papacy in the 2013 conclave and wondering who forced him to accept (i.e., to ‘consent to his election‘) the papacy by obedience, the post asks a simple question: who dispensed Jorge Bergoglio SJ from his vows?

I have continued to research the issue.  I have tried to reach out to canon law experts for comments (I invite experts to contact me…anonymity is guaranteed).  Roma Locuta Est finally contacted one such expert (a priest who will remain unnamed) who over the course of a friendly back and forth through email provided a few objections to the thesis of the article. I have summarized the expert’s objections and my own (amateur, non-expert) rebuttals in a subsequent article (see A Discussion of Cardinal Bergoglio’s Jesuit Vows and the 2013 Conclave).


Number Six: The “Influential Italian Gentleman”

Catholics following the scandals surrounding ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick are probably well aware of the mysterious figure of the “influential Italian gentleman” (See McCarrick’s description here). This individual met McCarrick at the North American College in Rome and asked McCarrick to ‘talk up Bergoglio‘ in the general congregations, or preparatory meetings for the 2013 conclave, which were to begin the morning of March 4, 2013. Per the video and transcript, it appears this McCarrick meeting occurred either on March 2nd, or possibly March 3, 2013 at the latest.

Various theories have been suggested as to who the “influential Italian gentleman” might be. Having read several of the pro-Francis books that provide a history of the conclave, I offer my own theory as to who the “influential Italian gentleman” might have been.


Number Five: What to do with a heretical pope…Nothing?

Earlier this year Bishop Athanasius Schneider wrote a guest op-ed that appeared on Rorate Caeli (see On the question of a heretical pope). Bishop Schneider’s opinion is that one cannot depose a heretical pope, nor does a heretical pope lose his office ipso facto. The Bishop’s view is different from the one previously expressed by Cardinal Burke.  In light of Bishop Schnieder’s article, the number six entry on the countdown discusses the question:  What to do with a heretical pope…Nothing?


Number Four: Martel’s Book: A Pope Francis-approved Hit Job?

Earlier this year a French journalist published a book that purports to be an expose’ of the homosexual subculture in the Vatican. The book is entitled In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy by Frédéric Martel.  At the time the number five entry on the countdown was written (Martel’s Book: A Pope Francis-approved Hit Job?), I had relied on the snippets provided in the press, and had not yet read Martel’s book. Since then, I obtained a copy of the book and my general appraisal of it remains pretty much the same. I keep meaning to write a fuller commentary on the book, and one day I hope to get to it.


Number Three: Time for an imperfect council to consider the case of an imperfect pope

Francis is supposed to be the successor of St. Peter, but he does not comport himself as such. Time after time he insults the faithful, their beliefs and piety, and he makes statements, or issues documents that can be interpreted in a heterodox fashion. Faithful Catholics hold their breath every time Francis speaks or writes, waiting for the next controversial statement or remark. Pope Francis has not exhibited the least fatherly concern for the faithful who suffer from the confusion he causes.

Back in October 2019 when the Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari published his claim that Francis denied the divinity of Christ, the number four article on the countdown discussed the need for an “imperfect council” (see Time for an imperfect council to consider the case of an imperfect pope. A related, more recent article addressed the main objection to an imperfect council (see Don’t let perfection be the enemy of an Imperfect Council).

Number Two: Regarding the Open Letter accusing Pope Francis of Heresy

Last April, a group of brave Catholic scholars released an open letter which accused Pope Francis of heresy (NB: the full document issued by these scholars may be found here). Roma Locuta Est‘s article — number three on the countdown — supported the signatories efforts to get cardinals and bishops to address the issues raised and evidence provided in the open letter.

Later, Roma Locuta Est observed there was one piece of evidence that might have been added to the Open Letter, i.e., Pope Francis’s preface Stephen Walford’s book (The Pope, The Family, and Divorce) which offered a defense of Walford’s interpretation of Amoris Laetitia.[1]  Roma Locuta Est‘s article [Pope Francis, the Open Letter and the Pesky Preface] — later republished on the OnePeterFive site — observed that Walford’s book and examples were ridden with the errors  and heresies outlined in the Open Letter; thus raising questions about Pope Francis’s preface to the book.


Number One:  When is a “pope” not a pope?

The Church waits in nervous anticipation as to if and what Pope Francis might say on the subject of so-called ‘women deacons’ following the Amazon Synod. The Pope’s post-synod Apostolic Exhortation is expected to be released soon. The Number One entry on the list took a look at comments Cardinal Müller had made in July 2019 on the subject of ordaining women as deacons.


Again, thanks to all those have read or continue to read this blog. Thank you for your support.  I hope you all have a blessed and Happy New Year!

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 author of Book I of the Pia Fidelis trilogy, The Two Kingdoms. (Follow on twitter at @fidelispia for updates). He asks for your prayers for his intentions.  He can be contacted at (or follow on Twitter: @S_OReilly_USA).


  1.  I provided a detailed rebuttal of Mr. Walford’s entire work in three parts (see The Errors of Mr. Walford’s ‘Pope Francis, The Family and Divorce’; Part II: The Development of Mr. Walford’s ErrorsPart III: Mr. Walford and the Magisterium). Other articles that address Mr. Walford’s articles and book may be found in the Summa Contra Stephen Walford.

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