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April 9, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – The following text is an introduction that I wrote for a little book by Marco Tosatti, in which he details Pope Francis’s mishandling of sex abuse scandals. His book, entitled NEOVATICAN GALLERY: Modernism, Unmentionable Vices and Corruption in the Time of Bergoglio was first published in Italian but is now also available in English.

Introduction to Marco Tosatti’s book, by Dr. Maike Hickson

It is with great joy that I write this little introduction for Marco Tosatti's candid and honorable book on Pope Francis and his defective way of handling prominent cases of sexual abuse. The reason for my joy is that this account gives me an occasion to honor Marco Tosatti for all that he has done for the Catholic Church in the course of now nearly years of this Bergoglian pontificate.

Let me shortly explain my own background, because it was because of this pontificate that I started to write and report on Church matters as a journalist here in the United States. I had been a mother and housewife, raising my family, when Jorge Bergoglio was elected in March of 2013. As a convert to the Faith, I had discovered the beauty of Catholic morality with regard to marriage and the family, but then became shocked to see that Pope Francis, shortly after his election, was quick at questioning the Church's teaching in this field, with his opening up a discussion of the so-called “Kasper proposal.”

This proposal had the idea in mind that those couples who had previously undergone a divorce and then sought a civil marriage – and thus were excluded from the sacraments since they live in an adulterous relationship – should, in some cases, be able to receive Holy Communion. This of course was and is a direct abuse of Our Lord's own teaching on marriage.

On February 22, 2014 – not even a year into his pontificate – the Pope had Cardinal Walter Kasper – the inventor of this proposal – present his ideas to most of the cardinals of the Catholic Church, during a consistory in Rome. And here comes Marco Tosatti into play. It was he who reported a month later that at that consistory, according to Cardinal Ruini, “about 85% of the Cardinals have expressed opinions apparently contrary to the layout of the report,”[1] thereby revealing that there existed a strong resistance within the College of Cardinals against the presented Kasper proposal. Tosatti at that time was already a veteran Vatican specialist writing for decades for the Italian newspaper La Stampa, and as such had had a well-developed network of contacts in the Vatican.

Therefore, we newcomers who were not yet so well-connected and knowledgeable about Vatican affairs were grateful that Tosatti used his professional excellence to help us see the truth through these first confusing years of this pontificate where there were still too many among the professional Vatican Correspondents who were always laxly willing to interpret the papal initiatives in a positive light. In all of this, Marco Tosatti was always very generous and collegial with us.

And so it went, for many years. While others reported from Rome: “nothing to see here,” Marco Tosatti published the scandalous stories that were revealing much of the reality under the reign of this Pope. I remember one Christmas – it was 2017– when I reported on Tosatti's story that Pope Francis had dismissed three of Cardinal Müller's most competent collaborators at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF),[2] something that the German cardinal was later even publicly to criticize, especially since no reasons were given. These were the early stories that gave many of us concerned Catholics a sense that Pope Francis was using quite authoritarian methods. Not long after Müller had expressed his dismay about this papal treatment of his collaborators in public, he suddenly and abruptly was also dismissed by the Pope, in June of that same year.

In these early years of this pontificate, however, we tradition-minded Catholic journalists and writers were not yet so much aware of the Pope's mishandling of sexual abuse cases. We dealt with doctrinal matters. But, as can be expected, when someone is lax with regard to doctrine – which includes doctrines regarding moral conduct – he will also be lenient with regard to those actors who violate these very same doctrines and moral codes in their personal lives. From “Who am I to Judge,” it is not too far toward turning a blind eye to one of your fellow prelates who is then being accused of sexual misbehavior.

What we did not know in the early part of Pope Francis' pontificate is, for example, that Pope Francis once, already in 2013, interrupted Cardinal Gerhard Müller during his celebration of the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, in order to command him, via cell phone, that he was to stop an investigation of his Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith into allegations against the English Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. It was once more Marco Tosatti who first broke the story (in 2017) that the Pope had interrupted Müller during the sacred action of his Mass in order to speak with him.[3] It was a few years later that we both were able to “connect some dots” and actually later realize that that now-famous papal telephone call of urgent interruption was about Murphy-O'Connor himself.

What later happened in 2018 was that I had received information about an acknowledged and credible victim of sexual abuse in England who had made additional allegations about the involvement of this English cardinal in her abuse, in the 1960s, when she was a young girl. That victim had been ignored with these claims against Murphy-O'Connor for years, to her distress and to the dismay of Catholic members of the ecclesiastical bureaucracy in England. Finally, two bishops who do not bear the direct responsibility for the handling of her abuse allegations brought her case to the CDF, in 2012. It was not long after Pope Francis had been elected Pope, in March of 2013, that he personally intervened and stopped that ongoing CDF intervention that had itself already such a painful and merciless history.

It was after I had contacted Marco Tosatti, asking him whether he knew anything about this specific case, that he revealed that his earlier story about the Pope's having interrupted Cardinal Müller's Sacrifice of the Holy Mass had to do with that very Murphy-O'Connor case at the CDF. That is to say: Pope Francis sacrilegiously interrupted a Holy Mass of one of his cardinals in order to stop a canonical investigation of one of his close allies, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor. The latter had been known for having lobbied for Jorge Bergoglio before the 2013 Conclave, and he actually himself later was to speak about his close ties with the Pope in public, calling him “my man.” Murphy-O'Connor was one of the members of the Sankt Gallen Group, which is credited for having worked in the background for Bergoglio's election. It was painful to see how a Pope could thwart justice and a proper canonical investigation for the sake of his own friendship with this cardinal. Tosatti and I published this story in a joint effort,[4] more information about this matter can be found in this book.

We owe it to John-Henry Westen, the editor-in-chief of, with whom I collaborated in the U.S. in these matters that we also then received confirmation by Cardinal Müller himself that he had, indeed, been interrupted during Mass by Pope Francis and that the Pope had ordered him to stop the Murphy-O'Connor investigation.

2018 – the year when Marco Tosatti and I brought this story to the public in a joint initiative – is also the year when the Cardinal McCarrick scandal broke out, and when Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò credibly informed the public that he had already earlier warned Pope Francis, shortly after his papal election in 2013, against then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and his homosexual and predatory conduct toward subordinate seminarians and priests. In August of 2018, the so-called Viganò Memorandum that was published in Italian also by Marco Tosatti, opened the eyes of many conservative Catholics who had earlier declined to acknowledge, or publicly criticize, those many  papal initiatives that promoted doctrinal heterodoxies as well as moral laxities. The McCarrick scandal was too close to home, and the revelations of Archbishop Viganò even let some to join him in his own appeal that the Pope should follow the examples of the Chilean bishops who had not long before offered collectively their resignation due to their failure to protect the innocent from the predatory, and largely homosexual priests.

As I stated, the fact that Pope Francis was gravely mishandling the rampant problem of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church came to our consciousness only later in this pontificate. There took place the Chilean abuse scandals, after the Pope first had dismissed any criticisms of Bishop Juan Barros whom he had appointed in 2015 as the bishop of Osorno, Chile. Ignoring the complaints that this bishop had covered up the abuse of his own mentor, Fernando Karadima, the Pope stood firmly at his side. However, finally, in 2018, the Pope had to apologize to the victims of sexual abuse here, even for his having insulted them and for his having misjudged Barros' role. Further details about these scandals may also be read in Marco Tosatti's own account in this book.

It is an important contribution from our Italian colleague that he put together all the different cases of sexual abuse, in different countries, wherever Pope Francis had played an unhappy and scandalous role in it. So far, we have published accounts of Pope Francis' authoritarian style of leadership, as well as of his doctrinally compromising reform programs, such as the guidelines admitting adulterers to Holy Communion. Here, we can name as important books Philip Lawler's The Lost Shepherd, Henry Sire's The Dictator Pope, and Ross Douthat's To Change the Church. It is time that now the abuse scandals of this Bergoglian pontificate receive a special and truthful attention in the form of a book.

Marco Tosatti's strength is that he shows the facts and then presents his knowledge, but he does not present himself scolding, nor even rebuking, the Pope. He is a journalist collecting the reliable stories and then presenting them to the Catholic public, encouraging thereby their prayers, sacrifices, and – where possible – their public resistance.

We thank Marco Tosatti for all his hard work during these last eight years, for his kind and generous collaboration and his sharing of information; for his tenacity and his courage. We also thank him for his sacrifices, since his stance during this pontificate has cost him his position at La Stampa which saw it fit to let him go. In October of 2016, Marco Tosatti therefore opened up his own website, Stilum Curiae, which so far has had nearly 21 million views. May the readers of this new book profit here from his hard and honorable work over the years.

[1]   Marco Tosatti, “The Secret Consistory: What Happened,” in La Stampa, 24 March, 2014, translated by Rorate Caeli:

[2]   Maike Hickson, “Pope Orders Cardinal Müller to Dismiss Three CDF Priests,” January 2, 2017,, online:

[3]   Marco Tosatti, “The Good Soldier,” 7 July 2017, First Things, online:

[4]   Maike Hickson, “Source: Pope blocked investigation of abuse allegations against cardinal who helped elect him,” 24 September, 2018, LifeSiteNews, online:

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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.


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