Julia Meloni’s The St Gallen Mafia: Crucial Insights into Pope Francis
Paul Kengor, TAN Direction, 21 November 2021
Julia Meloni’s new book, The St. Gallen Mafia, is a fascinating work. Rarely do I push through a book in two days, but this time I did.
The research and writing are outstanding. A read of the text and study of the footnotes and bibliography make clear that Meloni seems to have read every book available (many in Italian) on the central figure of Pope Francis and the core figures that comprised the so-called St. Gallen Mafia, namely: Cardinals Carlo Maria Martini, Godfried Danneels, Walter Kasper, Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, and Achille Silvestrini. Meloni’s examination of these characters and the connections she draws from them to Francis is admirably skilled and splendidly executed. It’s also eminently fair.
I do not know Meloni, but I partly expected a book on this provocative subject to contain hyperbole and flashes of anger and more than a few digs and shots at the chief characters—or maybe a better word for this group, the chief plotters. Meloni doesn’t do that. She is charitable, level-headed, and allows the facts to drive the conclusions. She narrates exceptionally well.
There is much to take from this book, and yet also, as with any analysis of Francis, much to leave one scratching one’s head. Francis remains an enigma. It is so hard to know the real Francis, especially where and when the man is leading or being led, or frankly, where and when the man is perhaps deceiving or being deceived by those whom he has surrounded himself with at the Vatican.