Top Ten Articles of 2020 on Roma Locuta Est

December 30, 2020 (Steven O’Reilly) – Roma Locuta Est is now approaching the end of its fourth year of existence (3rd full year). As has been the habit the last couple of years, we close out the year by recapping the top posts of the year.  The tradition now continues into 2020.

Before proceeding to the Top Ten List of posts of 2020, I’d note some honorable mentions, i.e., some recent and older posts from prior years which continue to draw a good deal of site traffic — at least in terms of this wee, humble blog. In terms of honorable mentions: 

From 2020, Roma Locuta Est‘s article on the presidential elections (see Are the 5 Non-negotiables really Non-negotiable?Biden: The President-Suspect, and Georgia on my mind: Back Trump or Else!).  

Roma Locuta Est posts, new and old, that rebut various “Benedict is Pope” (BiP) arguments still continue to draw significant traffic. A compilation of newer and older article on this topic may be found in the Summa Contra the BiP Theory (Why Benedict XVI is NOT the pope)

Ed Barr’s articles on Fr. Sudac (see Father Sudac and the Reality of Evil), and on the Eucharist (see The Bread of Presence foreshadows the Eucharist).

The “historicity” series of articles; both the older (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: The Two Kingdoms)], and recent additions to the series (The Historicity of the Resurrection: The Guards at the Tomb on the Third DayThe Historicity of the Resurrection: The Guards at the Tomb on the Third Day – Part II).  Roma Locuta Est hopes to add to this list in 2021.

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

Number 10 – The “Prevailing Interpretation” will not Prevail: This article rocketed to number 10 after only being posted early this December. This post was a response to a November article posted by Mike Lewis, the founder of the Where Peter Is blog.  Lewis’ article, entitled “Pope clarifies Amoris Laetitia in new book,” covered the recently released book penned by Pope Francis, “Let Us Dream: The Path To a Better Future.”  Specifically, Mr. Lewis looks to Francis’s book to see what light it sheds on the meaning of Amoris Laetitia on the question for communion for the divorced and remarried. 

Mr. Lewis draws upon various sources, such as St. Thomas Aquinas, Stephen Walford’s book (The Pope, The Family, and Divorce), as well as the Pope’s preface to Walford’s book to demonstrate the meaning of Amoris Laetitia. Our rebuttal to Mr. Lewis looks critically at the use of Aquinas, the reference to Walford’s book which we have elsewhere critiqued (see The Errors of Mr. Walford’s ‘Pope Francis, The Family and Divorce’), as well as the issues with the Pope’s preface to that same book (see Pope Francis, the Open Letter and the Pesky Preface). In sum, the nature, quality, and preponderance of the evidence strongly suggests the “prevailing interpretations” advanced by Mr. Lewis are, to put it mildly, erroneous in Faith. 

Number 9 – The Influential Italian Gentleman: McCarrick “touted the praises” of Bergoglio Prior to the Conclave: Long time readers of Roma Locuta Est are well aware that this site has long had a great interest in the tale and identity of the mysterious “influential Italian gentleman.”  This mysterious character visited ex-Cardinal McCarrick before the 2013 conclave and asked him to ‘talk up Bergoglio’ among the cardinals. Our thoughts on who the “influential Italian gentleman” have evolved since the earliest article on the subject to the point we now have a new leading candidate for who it just may be (see The “Influential Italian Gentleman”: A Sant’Egidio Connection?).

Setting aside the identity of the “influential Italian gentleman,” there had not been any evidence, one way or the other as to whether then-Cardinal McCarrick had actually ‘talked up Bergoglio’ as requested by his mysterious. Despite having Vigano’s Testimony before it, the McCarrick Report, quite curiously, make no effort to address Vigano’s claims; but instead downplayed McCarrick’s role.  The McCarrick Report includes a footnote (1198) which stated (emphasis added):

During the General Congregations, voting and non-voting cardinals come together to pray and express their thoughts regarding the needs of the Church and the qualities that might be important for the next pope to possess. McCarrick was visible during the General Congregations in 2013, meeting daily with the other cardinals. Neither cardinals nor journalists raised issues about his presence. In an interview, Pope Francis vaguely recalled McCarrick’s presence during the Congregations, but did not recollect having any discussions with him. (McCarrick Report, p. 391)

What the McCarrick Report fails to address is (1) whether McCarrick “talked up Bergoglio” in the General Congregations or (2) whether Francis had send the “influential Italian gentleman” as a personal emissary to McCarrick.  We address question #2 in The Conclave Chronicles.  But until Roma Locuta Est’s article Number 9, no evidence had been advanced demonstrating that McCarrick did in fact actively talk up Bergoglio before the conclave. As demonstrated in The Influential Italian Gentleman: McCarrick “touted the praises” of Bergoglio Prior to the Conclave, a nun who was a USCCB employee working in Rome at the time of the 2013 conclave, wrote in a contemporaneous blog post, that McCarrick “prior to the conclave” was “touting the praises” of Cardinal Bergoglio. Given these links, and McCarrick’s efforts on Bergoglio’s, it is strange but perhaps not surprising that the Vatican’s McCarrick Report fails to discuss McCarrick’s activities prior to the 2013 conclave (see Glaring Omission in McCarrick Report: What about the “Influential Italian Gentleman?”). 

Number 8If a Catholic protest happens in a forest…does it make a sound?  In January 2020, a few traditional Catholics held a protest in Munich (see here) to draw attention to the German synodal process which threatens to protestantize the Church with its call for women’s ordination and other liberal demands.  This small protest invited only (100+), and was organized in secret. Furthermore, he protesters gathered at the site without even notifying the local archdiocese of their purpose. When I heard this was the general outline of how this meeting came to be and I read Fr. Z’s excellent post (see here) on the Munich demonstration, an old saying came to mind: “if a tree falls in a forest, and there is no one around, does it make a sound?” This then morphed into the thought: “if there is a Catholic protest in a forest, and there is no one around, does it make a sound?” Does anyone hear it?  Does it have an impact?  The Number 8 article commented on the protest, and made a couple suggestions for future demonstrations.

Number 7 – The “we” in “We did it!” — and what they did  As might be obvious from this Top 10 list of posts, Roma Locuta Est has shown great interest in continuing to investigate McCarrick, and certain aspects of the pre-conclave maneuvers of the 2013 conclave which elected Pope Francis. This interest has been primarily a historical one. The reason I say ‘primarily historical’ is for the following reason. It is certain that the rules governing conclaves (cf Universi Dominici GregisNormas Nonnullas) would not invalidate an election that was achieved through simony (cf UDG 78). Consequently, given that paying for votes does not invalidate an election, it is hard to imagine how campaigning for votes alone would do so. That is for canonists to debate.

But….if campaigning does not  invalidate an election, it is still curious that “St. Gallen mafia” members — who are widely believed to have campaigned for Bergoglio — reject this suspicion so adamantly. It does seem these members of the St. Gallen mafia ‘doth seem to protest too much‘ — that is, if campaigning is all that is in question.

I recalled Patrick Coffin’s interview of Cardinal Burke in August of 2019. The interview touched upon the various concerns surrounding the 2013 conclave involving the activities of the “St. Gallen mafia” and of McCarrick’s “influential Italian gentleman” (see here). In that interview, Cardinal Raymond Burke, at least as I understand him, speaking in the hypothetical, seemed to suggest there “could be” an argument to invalidate the conclave if two things were demonstrated: (1) that the St. Gallen mafia engaged in an active campaign to undermine the pontificate of Benedict XVI and (2) that the St. Gallen mafia, at the same time, engineered the election of someone to their liking (see Coffin interview here, especially at 20:39-21:33).  The Number 7 article discusses both of these questions, and ties together evidence, including that uncovered by Roma Locuta Est (see article Number 1, and Number 9) which suggests there was a campaign, and that McCarrick was part of it. Given these links, as stated above re article Number 9, it is strange but not surprising that the Vatican’s McCarrick Report fails to discuss McCarrick’s activities prior to the 2013 conclave (see Glaring Omission in McCarrick Report: What about the “Influential Italian Gentleman?”).

Number 6Six Degrees of the “Influential Italian Gentleman”? There is evidence Democrat operatives in the U.S., who were upset with Catholic opposition to the inclusion of contraceptive coverage in Obama’s then-proposed healthcare legislation, discussed the “need for a Catholic Spring” in the Catholic Church, even wondering aloud about “how one would ‘plant the seeds of revolution…’” in the Church. Such expressions are found in an email thread obtained by Wikileaks from John Podesta’s email files. This email thread revealed part of a discussion between long-time Clinton and Obama political advisor, John Podesta, and Sandy Newman of Voices of Progress. This email exchange (entitled “opening for a Catholic Spring? just musing . . .“)  is dated February 10 and 11, 2012, a year before the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation. 

It has been suggested that everyone is connected by no more than six degrees of separation, i.e., that “all people are six, or fewer, social connections away from each other.” There was a famous and amusing game called the ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon‘ which was based on this premise. Given the talk of “planting the seeds of revolution in the Catholic Church,” as well as recognizing that disgraced ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick played an important role in the campaign in the election of Jorge Bergoglio (see The Conclave Chronicles), I thought it would be interesting to play a version of this game with the “Influential Italian Gentleman” — or the man who I now believe to be the best candidate to be him in all likelihood. We were a bit surprised to find there might indeed be such links.

Number 5 – Why did McCarrick visit the Obama/Biden White House in July 2013?  This article reached the #5 spot after only a couple weeks. Roma Locuta Est continues to explore and piece together the happenings surrounding and subsequent to the 2013 conclave which elected Cardinal Bergoglio, particularly as these relate to the ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Our articles to date on the subject have been assembled in the The Conclave Chronicle.  The Number 5 article explores McCarrick’s audience with Pope Francis in June 2013, and his subsequent trip to China — all as reported by Archbishop Vigano in his Testimony.  Roma Locuta Est discovered McCarrick had a meeting at the Obama/Biden White House in mid-July, i.e., after his return from China.  The article poses several questions about the nature and purpose of this meeting.

Number 4 – Fratelli Tutti, the Death Penalty, and Infallibility  Pope Francis issued his most recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti on October 4, 2020. In the Number 4 article I offered my initial reaction to the overall document, as well as commenting on the Pope’s treatment of the Death Penalty in the same encyclical.  As I wrote at the time, Fratelli Tutti reads more like a leftist manifesto of the sort one might expect in a speech, read by a General Secretary of the United Nations as John Lennon’s song Imagine echoes softly and hauntingly in the background, rather than a document written by a Successor of St. Peter, the Vicar of Christ. The core of Fratelli Tutti pretty much shares the same banal ‘borderless,’ religiously indifferent, ‘brotherhood of man‘ message of Imagine‘s lyrics, yet unfortunately does so without the song’s brevity. At least with Imagine one can ditch the lyrics and still walk away humming a lovely melody. Fratelli Tutti offers none of these partial graces for one’s time and efforts.    

Number 3 – The Coronavirus and the Third Secret of Fatima  Roma Locuta Est does not typically go into great length on  matters related to apparitions.  Here I have in mind particularly the apparitions at Fatima and the famous Third Secret. I don’t do so because there are many folks out there far more learned and better versed than I on the question. However, as I watched the video of the pope on the afternoon of March 27, 2020, as he blessed the city of Rome and the world with the Blessed Sacrament, some of the images of that day brought to my mind the vision that forms part of the Third Secret.

Number 2 – Dr. Mazza’s “daring hypothesis” fails miserably  Dr. Edmund Mazza appeared a few times on Dr. Taylor Marshall’s popular YouTube podcast (see here) to explain his “Mazza Hypothesis”  — a variant of the standard BiP theory, as we have coined the term for the theory which holds Benedict XVI is still pope. Roma Locuta Est has addressed this theory in a series of articles over the several of years (see Summa Contra the BiP Theory (Why Benedict XVI is NOT the pope)). While Roma Locuta Est has raised questions about the origin (see The Conclave Chronicles) and course of this papacy (see Summa Contra Stephen Walford), we do not believe the BiP theories — at least the ones suggesting Benedict either accidentally or intentionally issued an erroneous or deficient resignation letter — are plausible explanations.

Dr. Mazza’s thesis, in brief, suggests that in his written resignation Benedict both intended and succeeded in splitting the Primacy of Peter from the See of Rome. Thus, Benedict, according to the “Mazza hypothesis,” remains the Successor Peter, the Vicar of Christ; while Francis is the true bishop of Rome. Dr. Mazza went on to further explicate this theory on another episode of Dr. Marshall’s podcast (see here), as well as on a number of Ann Barnhardt podcasts (episodes 112, 113 and 115), her blog, as well as upon his own blog (see here). Dr. Mazza reiterated his argument in a recent article on his blog (, wherein he asserts: “My own examination of the data led me to the rather daring hypothesis that perhaps Benedict used his plenitudine potestas to separate the role of Vicar of Christ from Bishop of Rome!”

We have provided a series of rebuttals to Dr. Mazza’s theory, now compiled in the The Summa Contra Dr. Mazza.  But when his theory attracted the attention of Professor Enrico Maria Radaelli (see here), we returned to the question in what turned out to be the #2 post of the year. I remain interested in seeing Dr. Mazza’s reply to Roma Locuta Est‘s rebuttals of his thesis. Granted, Roma Locuta Est is but a wee, humble blog, but I did attempt to elicit such a response from him via Ann Barnhardt, Mark Docherty, as well as via the contact/comment form on his blog. All to no avail. I leave it to the reader to form his or her own conclusions as to why these rebuttals have not been addressed.

Number 1 – McCarrick on Bergoglio’s Election: “We did it!” – Over the years there has been much said about the St. Gallen mafia, and the seeming “campaign” to elect Bergoglio as pope. There has been some debate as to whether such efforts ran afoul of the rules governing conclaves.  In this article — the most viewed article of 2020 on this site, Roma Locuta Est provides exclusive first hand information regarding a prelate’s account of how ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick exclaimed “we did it!” on the night that Cardinal Bergoglio was elected pope. In the words of the prelate who heard this from McCarrick: “The words left me surprised and pondering. Since I was not involved in any campaign, it seemed to me that McCarrick had been.”

The Roma Locuta Est “staff” wants to thank all those who follow and read this site; and we wish all of you a Happy New Year for 2021.  

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 (or follow on Twitter: @S_OReilly_USA or on Parler: @StevenOReilly).

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