That may have sounded over the top, though in my partial defense, I wasn't alone.
But recent reporting on what actually happened is making the comparison seem more and more apt. What Edward Pentin described today (see excerpt below), could almost be a scene out of Rise and Decline of the Third Reich, as another independent ministry is taken over by the Party, or a monarch or president is ordered to validate the absorption of his country into the Reich.
Did Pope Francis threaten Knights of Malta Grand Master Matthew Festing with violence, or did he allude to the fact that tanks had already crossed the border? The answers are: obviously not to the latter, and I assume not to the former. Most accounts claim that Fra' Festing was under a huge amount of "pressure." But it's not immediately clear in what that pressure consisted. It does seem as if the poor man did take his vow of obligation to the Pope seriously, even though many have since claimed that his vow wouldn't apply in this sort of case.
The Sovereign Council of the Order could still refuse to accept Festing's resignation when they meet on Saturday.
In earlier stories by Pentin and others, it was claimed that there is in some ways an unprecedented level of fear among members of the Curia, though the reason or rationale for that fear was not completely obvious. What's the worst thing that could happen to a Vatican functionary or clergyman who refuses to go along with the Francis agenda? Is getting one's career advancement nipped, or getting re-assigned to or removed from this or that post the most horrible thing imaginable? It really is a mystery.
But what is actually happening is not a mystery. Francis may not be shooting people or throwing them into camps, but in the manner of any revolutionary dictator he's quickly moving to annex or destroy all independent sources of power that might conceivably oppose him, now or in the future.
You come when summoned, and you immediately comply with the order to transfer authority to the Party. You may even be asked to betray a comrade.
From Edward Pentin in today's National Catholic Register. Read the rest here:
The Pope summoned Fra’ Festing to the Vatican on Jan. 24 on the strict instruction not to let anyone know about the audience — a modus operandi that has been used frequently during this pontificate, the Register has learned. During the meeting, Francis asked Fra’ Festing to resign immediately, to which the Grand Master agreed. The Pope then ordered him to write his resignation letter on the spot, according to informed sources.
The Register has also learned that the Pope told Fra’ Festing that the reason for asking for his resignation was the Pope's conviction that he has to do a new, “complete investigation” of the Order, and that such an investigation would be “more easily conducted” if the Grand Master resigned.
The Register has been told that the Pope then had Fra’ Festing include in his letter of resignation that the Grand Master had asked for Boeselager's dismissal “under the influence” of Cardinal Raymond Burke, the patron of the Order. However, as patron the cardinal has no governance in the Order and can only counsel the Grand Master, meaning the decision to dismiss the Grand Chancellor belonged solely to the Grand Master.