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Don Tullio RotondoYouTube / screenshot

(LifeSiteNews) — Don Tullio Rotondo, an Italian Catholic priest ordained in 2004, has been suspended a divinis by his bishop for having published a book against Pope Francis’s errors as contained in his 2016 post-synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Professor John Rist, a world-renowned scholar of classical philosophy who had written the preface to Don Rotondo’s book, told LifeSite that his supension is “wholly unjust,” adding that Don Rotondo “has been punished for defending what has for hundreds of years been believed to be Catholic moral theology. His suspension is an example of the kind of servile abuse of authority which has no place in the Catholic Church.” 

Don Rotondo has given LifeSite an interview (see full text below), in which he explains in detail the arguments of his book – entitled Betrayal of Sound Doctrine through Amoris laetitia. How Pope Francis and some of his collaborators are spreading a morality contrary to the deposit of faith. The book highlights “various errors that the Pope and some of his associates are spreading regarding the Sacrament of Confession, moral conscience, the Moral Law and the death penalty,” according to Don Rotondo. This priest is at peace with his suspension, which bars him from administering any of the Sacraments.

“It is a very happy time in my life,” he tells LifeSite, “because, as the Apostles said, I am glad to be able to suffer something with Christ and for Christ, for His Truth. I am at peace, inwardly, and I feel I’ve found my calling.” He declined to retract his book when his bishop, Camillo Cibotti of the Diocese of Isernia-Venafro, told him to do so. 

After Pope Francis named Cibotti a bishop, and he was consecrated in 2014 by no one else than Archbishop Bruno Forte, the same bishop who played a crucial role during the 2014 Synod on the Family in closely collaborating with Pope Francis in order to push a heterodox agenda. 

LifeSiteNews has been able to review the decree of suspension signed by Bishop Cibotti and dated February 2, 2023. The decree explicitly mentions “disobedience toward the proper ordinary” and invokes can. 1371 of the Code of Canon Law, which states that a priest who “persists in disobedience after a warning” may be punished. 

In an explanation of his book published by Italian journalist Aldo Maria Valli, Don Rotondo explained in June 2022 his understanding of obedience:  

I specify in this regard that some Christians, evidently incompetent, believe, also due to an incorrect interpretation of the biblical texts, that Christian obedience consists in always doing what the superior says, especially if it is the Pope, and therefore they indicate as disobedient anyone who opposes the Pontiff’s statements and rulings; these Christians need to be reminded that their conception of obedience is actually “Nazi” and not Christian. The Christian must first and foremost obey the Supreme Superior who is God and therefore he must submit to the indications and commands of the other superiors only insofar as these indications and commands are not in contrast with the divine ones. St. Thomas is very clear on this point.  

Professor Rist – who himself in 2019 was banned by all pontifical universities in Rome for having signed an open letter accusing Pope Francis of heresy – wrote in his preface to Don Rotondo’s book: “Since many of the problems of the current papacy have been brought to the clearest light of the day since the publication of Amoris Laetitia, it would obviously be helpful if a guide were published through the enormous controversies that exhortation generated. And such a guide has now been compiled – truly a magnum opus et arduum – by Don Tullio who in more than 1300 pages has collected the relevant documents and examined them in the light of a broad knowledge of Scripture, as of the Fathers and Doctors of the church.”

Rist added that “the historians of the Catholic Church in the twenty-first century will find his material a goldmine for their eventual determinations, while today’s Catholics on the benches will find in his book an unparalleled resource as they try to unravel the web of arrogance, deceit, ambiguity and an insult that characterized what was proposed to us as theological renewal from top to bottom.” 

In comments to LifeSite, Rist explains that the books shows “how Pope Francis has provoked (indeed rather exposed and encouraged) deep, indeed fundamental divisions in the Church. Don Tullio has documented both sides of the argument about Amoris Laetitia with the utmost care and professionalism.” Expounding on why the bishop’s suspension of Don Tullio Rotondo is unjust, the English professor says: “The bishop has ordered Don Tullio to withdraw the book. Rather than doing that, he should have praised Don Tullio for his impassioned defense of traditional Catholic teaching.”

“By acting as he has,” Rist goes on to say, “the bishop has aligned himself with that considerable group among the episcopacy who believe that the pope IS the tradition (i.e. that what he asserts qua assertion is Catholic truth) instead of urging the pope to return to his proper and traditional role as the primary (but not the only) guardian of orthodox theology.” 

Amoris Laetitia has been a cause for concern and anguish for many clergymen and laity alike, since it opens the door for Catholics who do not live their lives according to the moral precepts of the Church (for example, regarding marriage) to nevertheless access to the Sacraments unrepentantly. This document even stirred four cardinals of the Catholic Church to publish their dubia in November 2016. They had previously sent it to Pope Francis privately. Their questions remain unanswered by the pope until this day.

Don Tullio Rotondo, in his interview with LifeSite, reminds the readers how Professor Josef Seifert, an Austrian philosopher of international renown, had at the time assessed this papal document: “Prof. Seifert stated that Paragraph 303 of Amoris Laetitia is ‘a theological atomic bomb that threatens to bring down the entire moral edifice of the 10 commandments and Catholic moral teaching.’” Professor Seifert himself also received, in response to his criticism, a punishment from the Spanish diocese of Granada where he was teaching in 2017: the local bishop, Archbishop Javier Martínez Fernández, banned him from teaching at his university. 

All these Catholic witnesses – laymen and clergy alike – will one day be honored for the fact that they suffered for defending the Church’s moral teachings.  

In his interview with LifeSite, the 56-year-old Don Tullio – who himself has university degrees in law and moral theology and a doctorate in theology – calls upon all to resist false teachings for the sake of the salvation of souls: 

I permit myself to say publicly: Dear brother priests, dear father bishops, dear theologians, if you do not speak up “the stones will cry out”  to reveal the very serious errors and related scandals that are spreading because of Pope Francis and to condemn those who know and do not speak, that is, they who recognize these errors and realize the great harm they cause souls regarding salvation and do not speak out, do not oppose. 

Please see here the full interview with Don Tullio Rotondo:

LifeSiteNews: Could you tell us in which diocese you are incardinated and your current status in the Church? 

Don Tullio Rotondo: I am incardinated in the Diocese of Isernia-Venafro and am currently suspended a divinis, so I live at home

Who suspended you? Was it only your bishop or was there intervention from Rome?

The responsibility lies with the bishop, but he certainly spoke with Rome to give me this sanction

What led to your suspension?
 The suspension decree highlights that  

  1. a) in 2022 I published a book entitled Betrayal of Sound Doctrine through Amoris laetitia. How Pope Francis and some of his collaborators are spreading a morality contrary to the deposit of faith. In it I show serious errors of the Pope and some of his collaborators disseminated, especially through Amoris laetitia;
    (b) the Bishop asked me to officially retract the book;
    (c) I made no such retraction;
    d) and thus the Bishop imposed on me the sanction of suspension
    a divinis


(a) I cannot publicly exercise offices, positions, or ministries;
(b) I cannot exercise the power of ordination or of government;
(c) and I cannot exercise any right or privilege or use any insignia or title (so I cannot wear the ecclesiastical habit)

Because of this sanction, my “celebret” has been withdrawn. I am prohibited from celebrating all the Sacraments

I specify at the outset that this book is the first of several volumes I am working on that highlight serious errors spread by the Pope and some of his collaborators in various forms. The book, in PDF format, is free and can also be downloaded free of charge from this site. 

The site offers automatic translations into various languages with neural technology which should be particularly good, though automatic. English-language site and book can be found here 

The bibliography of the book, currently about 40 pages, but destined to grow, can be found with with abbreviations here. Many of the articles in the bibliography are taken from LifeSiteNews, whom I sincerely thank for the great work it does on behalf of both life and sound Catholic doctrine with particular reference to the errors of Pope Francis. Thanks precisely to this site, I have been able to learn about many important statements by Catholic prelates and scholars who have courageously opposed the errors of Pope Francis. The fact that this site offers free content has been a great help in my work.    

What are the main arguments in your book that probably contributed to your suspension

The main arguments in my book that caused this suspension are those by which I highlight the Pope’s errors, that is, his opposition to Tradition and Holy Scripture. Beginning with Chapter III of the book, I highlight various errors that the Pope and some of his associates are spreading regarding the Sacrament of Confession, moral conscience, the Moral Law and the death penalty. These errors are a subversion and not an evolution of Catholic doctrine. We should oppose them as they are greatly detrimental to the salvation of souls.

Can you give us a concise overview of the book?

As I explained in the introduction, in the first chapter I talk about the limits of the Supreme Pontiff’s power in doctrinal matters. I dwell on the question of the possible heresy of a pope. I also show how history remembers obvious papal errors and how a pope was even declared a heretic and anathematized by an ecumenical council after his death. In this first chapter I examine the statements of Msgr. V. M. Fernandez, an Argentine prelate who is very close to Pope Francis and is considered ghostwriter of the exhortation Amoris Laetitia. In the book I make use of Msgr. Fernandez’s writings several times to better understand what Amoris Laetitia states. 

In Chapter II I show the obvious papal strategy that led to Amoris Laetitia and the serious consequences that followed it, a strategy comprised of ambiguous statements and a “code” (of words and actions) through which doctrinal change and the “paradigm shift” that he wants to implement are discreetly widespread.   

Pope Francis’ closest collaborators themselves have said that he is implementing a “paradigm shift.” Meanwhile, Cardinal Muller has stated, “Behind the pseudo-intellectual discourse of ‘paradigm shift’ lies only the undisguised heresy that falsifies the word of God.” The strategy of Pope Francis was also carried out through “manipulations” in the two Synods of 2014 and 2015 precisely in order to implement this ‘paradigm shift’.  

In the subsequent chapters I show how such a “paradigm shift” has been realized, and thus the errors that emerge from it through Amoris Laetitia regarding different points of Catholic doctrine. I show in those chapters how, in order to pass off a false morality as theologically acceptable, Pope Francis and his supporters, have exploited in particular two avenues: 

  1. the one whereby they practically set aside, in certain respects, the revealed Divine Law and with it the absolute obligatory nature of the negative precepts of the Decalogue. Here they also make use of a deviant conception of moral conscience; addressing this, Prof. Seifert stated that  Paragraph 303 of Amoris Laetitia is “a theological atomic bomb that threatens to bring down the entire moral edifice of the 10 commandments and Catholic moral teaching” 
  2. the one whereby they have spread an inaccurate and erroneous discernment of particular cases and thus an ambiguous, imprecise and deviant presentation of the extenuating circumstances of human acts. These circumstances are, in fact, cunningly expanded by the Pope and some of his collaborators and made capable of practically demolishing the divine precepts by leading to the consideration of true grave sins as venial sins or imperfections. in this line Bishop Schneider stated that the “new disciples of Moses and the new Pharisees during the last two Assemblies of the Synod (2014 and 2015) masked their practical denial of the indissolubility of marriage and a suspension of the Sixth Commandment on a case-by-case basis under the guise of the concept of mercy, using expressions like ‘way of discernment,’ ‘accompaniment’, ‘orientations of the bishop,’ ‘dialogue with the priest,’ ‘internal forum’ ‘a fuller integration into the life of the Church,’ a possible suppression of imputability regarding the cohabitation in irregular unions (cf. Final Report, nn. 84-86).” (These are the true words of Mons. Schneider, communicated to me by email, specifying what is found in an article by Rorate Caeli, date of consultation 28.4.2023. In this article there is, in fact, a printing error. 

Following these paths (but not only these paths), the Pope and some of his collaborators have practically opened the way also to the permissibility of homosexual acts, contraceptive acts, and adulterous acts … and thus practically to sacramental absolution and Eucharistic Communion for those who practice such acts and do not repent. No wonder the abortion extremist US President Biden came out of his meeting with Francis saying that, according to the Pope, he is a “good Catholic” and can receive the Eucharist. The Holy See has not denied it!   

If a pro-abortion gay marriage advocate like Biden can lawfully receive the Eucharist, it is clear that practically anyone can do so, even the greatest sinners who do not repent, for Biden evidently does not repent of the evil he does. This all connects to the error whereby contrition, and thus the intention not to sin, is no longer absolutely necessary for sacramental confession. The book points out in Chapter III how the claims of Pope Francis and his collaborators can lead to invalid sacramental absolution and to invalid confessions insofar as they lack the penitent’s contrition. These invalid absolutions and invalid confessions do not forgive sins but simply deceive penitents. Without the true contrition of the penitent there is no true Absolution, no true  Sacrament of Penance and no true remission of sins through the Sacrament. 

Chapter VI examines the Pope’s errors about the death penalty. The lawfulness of the death penalty, in some cases, is clearly affirmed by the natural law and the revealed law, and the Pope is in clear error when he declares the death penalty “inadmissible.” 

I stress that, as I have amply shown in the book, the Pope’s assertion that Amoris Laetitia faithfully follows Thomist moral doctrine is untrue; in fact, in many places that exhortation completely opposes Aquinas’ morality, even though it tries to cloak itself in the title of “Thomist document” to look like solid doctrine. It is not strange that a pope who practically tramples on God’s Law and its absolute negative commands with various strategies and perverts sound Catholic doctrine would say things that are clearly false while passing them off as supreme truth. If the negative commands of the Decalogue can be violated pratically in a lawful manner in some cases, it is evident that a person can even lie pratically in a lawful manner in some cases.  

Have you ever had any problems with the Church hierarchy before? 

I have never before had sanctions placed on me. I have always tried to be obedient to the Pope and the Bishop, to lead a holy life, and to learn more and more about sound doctrine. My life has been dedicated in good part to study; in fact, I received my law degree in 1992 from the University la Sapienza in Rome, in 2002 I received my licentiate in moral theology, and in 2008 I was awarded my doctorate in theology with a thesis on the doctrine of St. Thomas regarding the Eucharist and its relation to the Christian moral life. Precisely because of my theological training and because of the light God gave me through prayer, I realized that Pope Francis in the course of his Pontificate was spreading doctrine not in accordance with what we knew. Therefore, I set out to study Tradition deeply and then compared it with Pope Francis’ statements. I read what great experts were saying and became convinced that Pope Francis was spreading very serious errors, described by experts as true heresies. 

In light of your terrible fate now, how do you sustain yourself and remain strong in faith despite this grave injustice? 

It is not a terrible fate; in fact, it is a very happy time in my life because, as the Apostles said, I am glad to be able to suffer something with Christ and for Christ, for His Truth. I am at peace, inwardly, and I feel I’ve found my calling. Basically, I continue to do what I was doing; that is, I continue to follow Christ and spread his Word. I continue to pray and speak clearly showing the very serious errors that the Pope and some of his associates spread.  

With some people I have an online prayer group in which we pray for the situation we are living in the Church. (This group which is also in my YouTube channel.) I reflect on the Liturgy of the day and also talk about the Pope’s errors that contradict sound Catholic doctrine.

Yesterday, for example, I was observing how, while St. Justin stated, “To no one else is it lawful to partake of the Eucharist, except to him who believes the things we teach to be true, and who has been cleansed by that washing instituted for the remission of sins and regeneration, and then lives as Christ taught.” (“First Apology on behalf of Christians” by St. Justin, Martyr [Ch. 66-67. PG 6, 427-431]) Pope Francis clearly maintains that pro-abortion  politicians like President Biden and Mrs. Nancy Pelosi can receive the Eucharist; in fact while the American Bishops wanted to prevent President Biden, who is pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage, [from receiving] Holy Communion, the Pope clearly blocked them.  

When President Biden came to the Pope, he reported that according to the Pontiff he is “a good Catholic and can take Communion.” The Holy See has not denied these claims. President Biden continuously receives the Eucharist in clear opposition to Catholic doctrine! When Mrs. Nancy Pelosi, universally known as an abortionist and supporter of other immoralities, came to Rome, she was given Holy Communion—of course with papal permission. This is not only erroneous and contrary to Tradition, it is gravely scandalous!  

We are praying in this small group for God to intervene and free the Church from these errors and scandals. I will continue to speak and pray for God to intervene and deliver us from these very serious errors that are terribly damaging to souls. I will not stop, God willing, in the face of any sanctions that may come my way. We are facing the worst pontificate in history at the doctrinal level, as the famous Professor Rist said in the preface to my book, and as is stated by the famous Oxford professor, John Finnis, former member of the Holy See’s International Theological Commission from 1986 to 1991, member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (1990-95) and of the Pontifical Academy for Life (2001-2016). \

In commenting on a book, Finnis said: “With admirable lucidity and a wealth of evidence and argument, this timely book collects the main published documents making the case that heresies designedly put about by Pope Francis are today a primary cause and manifestation of Christianity’s worst crisis ever.” (Editorial review of the book produced by John Lamont and Claudio Pierantoni, Defending the Faith Against Present Heresies, Arouca Press, 2021)

We are in the worst doctrinal crisis the Church has ever faced, and it is because of the Pope. It seems impossible, and yet it is so. In this situation, I understood that I must pray and speak so that God will intervene and people will understand and move to stop this avalanche of errors which, as highlighted by many experts at various levels and also by Prof. Finnis, appear in some cases to be actual heresies. God detests such errors and will intervene to deliver us from them, but we must cooperate with God so that this can be accomplished. God does not want to do everything by Himself; He wants our cooperation to deliver us from such doctrinal and moral perversions. Sound doctrine makes us understand this and the history of the Church as well.   

What you would say to Catholics, especially priests and bishops?   

I strongly urge everyone to pray on these subjects and to make an effort to understand how things really are, reading my book and/or other similar texts, and then I urge them to pray and act so that these errors will be erased and repudiated and sound doctrine will once again be taught by the Pope and his collaborators.  

I call on those who have understood the way things are to speak out boldly so that people will realize the errors being spread because of the Pope and not follow them. God wants to deliver us from these errors, but He wants to use us! Jesus states in the Gospel, “I tell you, if they [My disciples] keep silent, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:39-40).  

Origen’s commentary on this text is illuminating: Quando nos loquimur, lapides silent: quando nos tacemus, lapides clamant. Potest enim Dominus de lapidibus istis suscitare filios Abrahæ. ” Quo tempore nos tacebimus? Quando refrixerit charitas multorum, quando illud quod a Salvatore prædicatum est, fuerit impletum: Putas veniens Filius hominis inveniet fidem super terram? Propterea Domini misericordiam deprecemur, ne, nobis tacentibus, lapides clamitent; sed loquamur et laudemus Deum in Patre, et Filio, et Spiritu sancto: cui est gloria et imperium in sæcula sæculorum . Amen” (Origen, Homilies on the Gospel of Luke, 37:5): “When we speak, the stones are silent; when we are silent the stones cry out. For God can from these stones raise up children to Abraham. In what time shall we be silent? When charity has grown cold in many, when what has been foretold by the Lord will be fulfilled, ‘Do you think that when the Son of Man comes, he will find faith on earth?’ [Luke 18:8]. Therefore, we invoke the Lord’s mercy so that it will not be the case that, we remaining silent, the stones will cry out; but that we will speak and praise God in the Father, and in the Son, and in the Holy Spirit, to Whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.”   

I permit myself to say publicly: Dear brother priests, dear father bishops, dear theologians, if you do not speak up “the stones will cry out” to reveal the very serious errors and related scandals that are spreading because of Pope Francis and to condemn those who know and do not speak, that is, they who recognize these errors and realize the great harm they cause souls regarding salvation and do not speak out, do not oppose.  

The salvation of souls is the fundamental principle in the life of the Church, for that salvation Christ gave his life and all Catholics, but above all we ministers of God, must give our lives. Unfortunately, we see how precisely Francis’ errors are of great harm for souls’ salvation, as I have shown in my book, permitting, for example, bringing about even confessions that are invalid for lack of contrition.  In a certain sense the “stones” are already “crying out” because so many who are not priests or bishops or theologians have understood well how things stand and are speaking clearly against the errors of the Pope and complain about the silence of so many theologians and ministers of God.   

 I add that my desire, in addition to the publication of the other two volumes, is:  

(a) to create a group of experts who can permanently intervene to expose the errors of Pope Francis and his collaborators and oppose them; 

(b) to create a large worldwide network of prayer and penance so that the errors of Pope Francis and his collaborators will cease and the light of Truth will return through their words. 

I emphasize that I do not want the death of the Pope but that he convert from these errors and help souls live in holy Catholic truth.  

Prof. Rist had written a preface to your book. Could you tell us what was his main argument? 

First of all, I must publicly thank Professor Rist for his courage and testimony. I see him as a kind of prophet in these times; he has signed many public documents against the errors of Pope Francis and for that he has had to suffer significant retaliation. I am therefore very happy that Prof. Rist wanted to write the preface to my book; it was a great honor for me. In that preface the professor first of all highlights the very serious situation created at the doctrinal level with the Francis pontificate, pointing out how one part of the Church has followed the errors spread by the current Pope and another part has opposed them, and highlights the usefulness of the book I wrote in this situation. As Professor Rist says, “Many of the problems of the current papacy have been brought into the clearer light of day by the publication of Amoris Laetitia. It would obviously be useful if a guide through the enormous controversies that exhortation has created were published. And such a guide has now been compiled–truly a magnum opus et arduum–by Fr. Tullio, who in more than 1,300 pages has collected the relevant documents and examined them in the light of a broad knowledge of Scripture, as well as of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church.” 

I clarify that I do not consider this work as my own but God’s. The book was born in prayer; in prayer I realized that I had to carry out this work, and in prayer I am continuing this work, a work that is truly colossal and in one way impossible, at least for me, and to which I am now completely dedicated. So far I have published only the first volume of about 750 pages, with lots of notes but in a short while I mean to publish the second volume of about 350 pages with lots of footnotes and then a third volume of about 500 pages also with very many footnotes. I emphasize the footnotes to make it clear that I haven’t written my own inventions but what eminent theologians and prelates say, that I have repeated what Tradition states.  

Prof. Rist’s praise belongs not to me but to God who pushed me to write and helps me to continue. The text that Prof. Rist saw I am still expanding to make the situation clearer to everyone. Therefore, the number of pages is still increasing but always with the same doctrinal intent. The bibliography is already 40 pages with single spacing, but it is destined to grow even more.  

As Professor Rist says about my book, “Historians of the Catholic Church in the twenty-first century will find his material a gold mine for their determinations, while today’s Catholics in the pews will find in his book an unparalleled resource as they try to untangle the web of arrogance, deception, ambiguity and insult that has characterized what has been proposed to us as top-down theological renewal.” I add that it is important to leave to those who will follow us a colossal documentation that attests to how far a pope’s doctrinal perversion could go and what the responses of the bishops, of God’s ministers, and of God’s people were to all this so that the scholars and prelates of the future can understand what is important to do so that such a situation never occurs again. Therefore, those who would like to help me expand the bibliography can contact me on Facebook at my page Don Tullio Rotondo or on the page Betrayal of Sound Doctrine or also through my YouTube channel Don Tullio Rotondo.


I have entrusted and continue to entrust this work to Our Lady, to her Immaculate Heart. May it help bring about the triumph of her Immaculate Heart over these errors spread by Pope Francis. I underscore that this situation through which we are living is in God’s hands. God has permitted—not wanted—these even heretical errors of the Pope, as has been said, and we know that God allows evil for a greater good. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (412), we read a text by St. Thomas Aquinas that states, “For God allows evils to occur in order to draw from them a greater good. Hence St. Paul’s saying, ‘Where sin abounded, grace abounded’ (Rom. 5:20). Therefore, in the blessing of the Paschal candle it is said, “O happy fault, which merited such and so great a Redeemer!” God, with our cooperation, will wipe out these doctrinal perversions and know how to turn this evil to the greater good so that His Truth may shine more strongly for the greater salvation of souls and the greater glory of God. 

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Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli,, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana,, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.