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ROME, March 22, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — The Knights of Malta say they have suspended historian Henry Sire for allegedly breaching their constitution, following revelations that he is the mysterious author of The Dictator Pope. However, Sire himself maintains the suspension is null and illegal under the Order's rules.

According to the Order, Sire was notified of the alleged suspension on Wednesday.

Sire’s identity as the author of The Dictator Pope was confirmed on Monday, when Regnery Press posted his name and background on an online description of the book. Sire originally self-published the book under the pseudonym Marcantonio Colonna, a historical figure best remembered for his service as admiral of the papal fleet in the Battle of Lepanto.

On Monday, Sire tweeted from his official Marcantonio Colonna account: “As the French say, l’heure est arrivée. Sometimes a surprise coming-out party is best.”

“I tip my hat to the great Admiral Colonna, whose name I’ve tried to honor,” he added.

Sire released a statement today disputing the Order's claim to have suspended him. “The proceeding against me (of which I was notified yesterday) is wholly illegal. It has been initiated by the Grand Chancellor, with the consent of the Lieutenant of the Order. The laws of the Order stipulate that such a proceeding has to be initiated by my superior, who is the Grand Commander, and he has not been involved. Moreover, the superior has to initiate the process without communicating with the Grand Chancellor. These requirements have been comprehensively ignored.”

“It is also ironical that these illegalities have been committed by the Grand Chancellor, who ousted the Grand Master a year ago by protesting at the supposed illegalities of his own suspension.”

Originally available only on Kindle, Regnery is now publishing a revised and updated hard copy of the book titled The Dictator Pope: The Inside Story of the Francis Papacy.

The explosive book first appeared in December. It has been praised for its scholarship, with one respected commentator saying “90 percent of it is simply incontrovertible.”

It reportedly tells the behind-the-scenes story of the Francis papacy, of Jorge Bergolgio’s life before his election to the Chair of Peter.

Henry Sire (H. J. A. Sire) was born in 1949 in Barcelona to a family of French ancestry. He was educated at the Jesuits’ centuries-old Stonyhurst College and at Exeter College, Oxford, where he gained an honors degree in Modern History.

He is the author of six books on Catholic history and biography, including one on the famous English Jesuit, writer, and philosopher Father Martin D’Arcy, SJ. 

Sire also penned Phoenix from the Ashes: The Making, Unmaking, and Restoration of Catholic Tradition, which examines the state of the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council.

The hard copy version of The Dictator Pope is available for pre-order from Regnery Press and will be released in April.