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Historian H.J.A. Sire, a.k.a. Marcantonio Colonna, author of the 'The Dictator Pope' Edward Pentin photo

ROME, April 21, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — The author of the top-selling book The Dictator Pope has said Pope Francis isn’t a reformer but rather a “maverick pope” who “acts like a dictator” and has “completely gone off the rails.”

In a video interview with the National Catholic Register published on Saturday (watch interview below), author and historian Henry Sire says Francis is “one of the more disastrous pontificates in history,” and he felt it necessary to reveal the “gap” between Francis’ public image and the “reality as it is known in the Vatican.”

Sire says he had no intention of writing a balanced picture of Francis’ papacy as he intended the book “to be an alarm call.”

“When you’re shouting ‘Fire!’ when the house is on fire, you don’t say: ‘Well actually the fire is doing quite good work cooking the chicken in the kitchen,’” Sire explains.

Join LifeSite’s live webcast with Henry Sire on April 23 at 9PM EST: Pope Francis’ plan to change the Church. Register here.

The Dictator Pope was published as an e-book in November last year under the pseudonym Marcantonio Colonna, the 16th century admiral of the papal fleet at the Battle of Lepanto. Regnery Publishing will release a completely revised and updated print edition of the book on April 23.

In his first video interview, Sire said that Francis is essentially a “politician who relies on public relations” and who “is a dictator” in the tradition of the former Argentine populist leader, Juan Peron. Peronists, Sire said, are “complete opportunists” who are neither left nor right wing, and this “sums up Pope Francis exactly.”

Born in Barcelona of a family of French ancestry, Sire was educated at Stonyhurst College, a prestigious private Jesuit school in England, and then went on to study history at Oxford University.

He spent four years until last year in Rome, serving as resident historian to the Order of Malta. Soon after Sire’s name was made public last month, he was suspended from the Order — a move Sire is contesting on the grounds that the instruction to suspend him is illegal.

But the historian, who travelled to Buenos Aires to research the book, stressed that he wrote the book not out of spite or personal animosity but because he is concerned about the wellbeing of the Church under Francis’ leadership. He also hopes the book will help the College of Cardinals to avoid “the mistake” of electing such a “completely unknown” cardinal at the next Conclave.

Sire has little doubt about the Pope’s autocratic nature: “If you speak to bishops or cardinals in Rome they will tell you that Pope Francis doesn’t deal with them in collegial spirit at all,” Sire says. “They were treated much more collegially under Benedict XVI. No, as I say, Pope France is a dictator.”

He said Francis has also “not shown himself to be a reformer at all.” The author and historian added that what distinguishes Francis from previous “bad popes” is that he is “not just personally a mistake, but is trying to lead the Church in a direction that rejects tradition.”

“None of the bad popes of the past have tried to do that,” he said, “so you have these two elements of danger from Pope Francis.”

Sire told the National Catholic Register that he originally chose to be anonymous because the “regime” under Pope Francis often resorts to “retaliation” and he wanted in particular to protect those “whom the Vatican might think associate with me.” His publishing contract with Regnery required him to make his true identity known.

In the interview Sire also explained his views on the Second Vatican Council. He sees himself as simply following the Catholic line that existed up until the 1960s and so is not the extremist some of his critics have alleged.

He said he tried to reveal some of the psychological traits of the Pope, and included parts of a 1992 character study of Jorge Bergoglio by the former superior general of the Society of Jesus, Hans Peter Kolvenbach. What became known as the Kolvenbach Report was carried out to ascertain whether Bergoglio was suitable to be appointed a bishop, but it showed he had “various character defects” and so was “quite unsuitable” to be bishop.

Sire said one of the new elements in the book is information on Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, the archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, who is also the “right hand man” of the Pope. The cardinal heads one of the “most corrupt” dioceses in the entire Church, Sire said, “both financial corruption and moral corruption.”