The “Influential Italian Gentleman”: A Sant’Egidio Connection?

July 15, 2020 (Steven O’Reilly) – Folks have long speculated on the identity of the “influential Italian gentleman” described by ex-cardinal McCarrick in his talk at Villanova University in October 2013.  Roma Locuta Est has hypothesized  that the individual might be an Italian journalist, or associated with something like a large charitable organization in Rome.

As far as the journalist theory, we had thought it interesting that the first people Cardinal Bergoglio dined with upon his arrival in Rome (February 27, 2013) before the 2013 conclave was a small gathering of four Italian journalists. All four journalists were close friends of Bergoglio. A few days later, one of these journalists, a prominent Vaticanisti named Andrea Tornielli wrote an article that seemed something of a press release for the candidacy of Cardinal Bergoglio (see here).  Indeed, its opening line read: “Four years of Bergoglio would be enough to change things …“.  That is certainly an attention grabber!  And, curiously, the “influential Italian gentleman” used a very similar line in his meeting with McCarrick (see the Villanova Speech).

The other night I was doing some late night research on the whole issue as denizens of this blog may recall from my last article on this subject (see here). Doing so, I came across a couple of Italian blogs (see here and here), which among other things, stated that when Cardinal Bergoglio arrived in Rome on February 27, 2013, the Community of Sant’Egidio sent a car to the airport to pick him up.  I found this a curious suggestion because Gerard O’Connell (also a journalist friend of Bergoglio) in his book, The Election of Pope Francis, stated on page 76 that Cardinal Bergoglio took public transportation from the airport to his lodging in Rome. At the moment, I don’t know the source of the Italian blogs’ information on this point. Perhaps, Sant’Egidio regularly provides this transportation service to other dignitaries visiting Rome, and thus meets O’Connell’s meaning of “public transportation?”  I don’t know.

Regardless, the seeming discrepancy sparked my interest. I took a closer look at  Andrea Riccardi, who one of the Italian blogs mentioned above (see here) suggested as possibly being McCarrick’s “influential Italian gentleman.” As I explored the question, I agreed he seems a very strong candidate. Andrea Ricardi is the founder of the Community of Sant’ Egidio, an influential lay group in Rome and in over 70 countries. In a March 2014 interview with the Italian newspaper La Republica, Riccardi described himself as being a “convinced Bergoglian” since 2005 (see here). Bergoglio, for his part, appears to be “very close” to the Community of Sant’Egidio (see here), as well as to its founder, Andrea Riccardi. So close, in fact, that it was once rumored that Francis intended to make this layman a cardinal (see here)!

In all, Riccardi is an intriguing possibility as his background is consistent with McCarrick’s description of the “influential Italian gentleman” at Villanova, as well as the general profile I had in mind in my original article on the subject of the Influential Italian Gentleman in June 25, 2019:

“The second reason, and the main one why I doubt the individual is an open mason is because McCarrick further described the ITG as a “very influential man in Rome.” This suggests to me the ITG is well known and regarded in Vatican and curial circles, i.e., “Rome” in a purely Catholic context–not a civic or business one.

How might a layman be said to be very “influential” in the Vatican or the curia? Perhaps the ITG is involved with one or more Catholic charities, or perhaps he is something of a media personality, or perhaps he is a journalist. But, again, I believe the realm of his influence should be seen to be in a Catholic, ecclesiastical context (i.e., the Vatican and curia). It is here then, I believe, we will find the “influential Italian man.”

Riccardi does meet McCarrick’s outlined criteria of being influential, well known and regarded in  Vatican circles. But, one of the other clues dropped by McCarrick is also consistent with the Riccardi theory.  According to McCarrick, the “influential Italian gentleman” asked McCarrick for some sort of favor in the US. While we don’t know the nature of this requested favor, Ricardi’s Community of Sant’Egidio has several communties in the U.S., including Washington D.C.  Might the favor have something to do with one of these communities, possibly the one in McCarrick’s ‘hometown’ of Washington DC?

Anyway, as said, intrigued by the Riccardi theory, the next thing I wondered was, ‘is there any known link between Riccardi and McCarrick.’ I did a quick google search and the first hit was a book offered for sale through, The Sant’Egidio Book of Prayer Book by Andrea Riccardi. Then to my surprise, I observed that the foreward for the book (published in 2009) was written by none other than ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick.  [NB: In addition to the above noted Italian blog floating Riccardi’s name back in September of 2018, my google hits also turned up a comment beneath an article on the Eponymous Flower blog.  Beneath the article, from September 12, 2018, entitled “Liaisons dangereuses McCarrick–Bergoglio,” a commenter named “Louis” opined whether McCarrick’s visitor might have been Andrea Riccardi.  In addition, “Louis” also called out the link between Riccardi’s prayer book, just mentioned above, and McCarrick’s foreward. So, kudos to “Louis” who saw this way back in 2018].

All very curious. Is Andrea Riccardi the “influential Italian gentleman”? He is an interesting prospect, and I would say he is among the top contending “candidates,” if not the leading one.  Perhaps a journalist in Rome might ask him if he visited McCarrick at the North American College in either February or early March of 2013, whether he asked him to ‘talk up Bergoglio,’ and if so, did Bergoglio have knowledge beforehand of this visit?

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 or on Parler: @StevenOReilly).

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