Tuesday, November 9, 2021

The “Mafia of Sankt Gallen” Julia Meloni’s Book

The book by the US publicist Julia Meloni reconstructs the origin, activity and ideological background of the "Mafia of Sankt Gallen". (With Forward by Thug Gordon)

 By Roberto de Mattei *

Whoever wants to understand what is hidden behind the Synod on Synodality, which was opened by Pope Francis on October 10, should not pass up the recently published book by Julia Meloni "The St. Gallen Mafia" (TAN, 2021), which unearths and traces their historical and ideological conditions.

Reading this book is as exciting as a novel, but everything is documented according to a strict historical method.  This aspect deserves to be highlighted at a time when certain conspiracy theories are presented in superficial and sometimes fanciful ways.  To compensate for the lack of evidence, these theories make use of the narrative technique, which appeals to emotions rather than reason, and wins over those who, through an act of faith, have already chosen to believe the improbable.  Julia Meloni, on the other hand, tells the story of a real conspiracy, pinpointing the goal, the means, the places and the protagonists.  It is the story of the “Mafia of Sankt Gallen”, as one of its main representatives, Cardinal Gottfried Danneels, described it (Karim Schelkens / Jürgen Mettepenningen: Gottfried Danneels, Editions Polis, Antwerp 2015).

St. Gallen is a Swiss city where Ivo Fürer was bishop in 1996, who until the year before was General Secretary of the European Bishops' Conference.  In consultation with Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini (1927–2012), Archbishop of Milan, Bishop Fürer decided to invite a group of prelates to draw up an agenda for the Church of the future.  The group met for ten years, from 1996 to 2006. The most important personalities besides Cardinal Martini were Walter Kasper, Bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, and Karl Lehmann (1936-2018), Bishop of Mainz, both of whom were to receive the cardinal purple.  Two other future cardinals were later co-opted: Godfried Danneels (1933–2019), Archbishop of Mechlin-Brussels, and Cormac Murphy-O'Connor (1932–2017), Archbishop of Westminster.  They were joined in 2003 by the Roman Curial Cardinal Achille Silvestrini (1923–2019), thanks to whom the St Gallen Group became a powerful lobby able to determine the election of a Pope.  A few days after the funeral of John Paul II, the “Mafia of St. Gallen” met at the invitation of Silvestrini in the Villa Nazareth in Rome to agree on an action plan for the next conclave.  On a photo that appeared in The Tablet on July 23, 2005, you can see Cardinals Martini, Danneels, Kasper, Murphy-O'Connor and Lehmann, all "key members and students of the St. Gallen Mafia", next to Cardinal Silvestrini,  as Julia Meloni writes (p. 5).

The original plan was to elect Cardinal Martini to the papal throne, but in 1996, the year the group was founded, the Archbishop of Milan began to experience the first symptoms of Parkinson's disease.  In 2002 the cardinal made the news public by passing the management staff on to Cardinal Silvestrini, who from January 2003 led the major maneuvers with a view to the next conclave.  Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor was in contact with Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, and introduced him to the group as a possible opponent of Ratzinger.  Bergoglio received the approval of the “Mafia”, but it was Cardinal Martini himself who had the greatest doubts about his candidacy, not least because of the information he had received from the Society of Jesus about the Argentine bishop.  When Bergoglio's defeat at the 2005 conclave seemed certain, it was perhaps a relief that Cardinal Martini announced to Cardinal Ratzinger that he would make his votes available.  The St. Gallen group met for the last time in 2006, but Martini and Silvestrini continued to exert a strong influence on the new pontificate.  In 2012, Cardinal Kasper spoke of a "south wind" blowing through the Church, and on March 17, 2013, a few days after his election, Pope Francis, unsurprisingly, quoted Kasper as one of his favorite authors and commissioned him to open the extraordinary consistory  on the family in February 2014.

However, Pope Francis disappointed the progressives no less than he irritated the conservatives, and his pontificate is in unstoppable decline after eight years.  But even when the main protagonists of the St. Gallen Mafia are dead, their modernist spirit hovers over the synodal process, while new maneuvers for the next conclave are already underway.  Julia Meloni's book, which reconstructs the history of this “mafia”, helps us understand the opaque dynamics that move the Church today.  I can add a few elements from my own memories.

In the autumn of 1980 a priest of the Roman Curia, Monsignor Mario Marini (1936–2009), not yet 50 years old, intelligent and full of vigor, visited me.  The priest was a collaborator of Cardinal Giovanni Benelli (1921–1982) and watched with concern as those who had been Benelli's enemies occupied more and more key positions in the Vatican and throve in the shadow of Cardinal Agostino Casaroli (1914–1998), Secretary of State of  John Paul II.

Between 1980 and 1981 we had several meetings with Monsignor Marini, during which he explained to me in detail the existence of what he called a “mafia” that surrounded John Paul II, who was elected to the papal throne in 1978.  This Mafia had its “gray eminence” in Monsignor Achille Silvestrini, shadow and alter ego of Cardinal Casaroli, who had succeeded him in 1973 as Secretary of the Council for Public Affairs of the Church: the same Silvestrini whom Julia Meloni presents us as “mastermind” of the Mafia  from St. Gallen.

Silvestrini was an intelligent and interesting man who had represented the Holy See at the Helsinki (1975), Belgrade (1977/78) and Madrid (1980) Conferences, although he did not have the diplomatic experience of a nuncio.  Like many post-conciliar prelates, he was above all a politician who liked to strip off his curial robes in order to have confidential talks outside his premises in the Vatican.  The Vaticanists valued his willingness to pass on confidential information, even if his information, which was evenly distributed between the right and left sides, showed a wise balance between lies and truth.  In international politics he joined the positions of the Bishop of Ivrea, Msgr. Luigi Bettazzi, who advocated the policy of unilateral disarmament.  In domestic politics, he supported the Christian Democratic line, which was "more open" to the Italian Communist Party.  In particular, he cultivated relations with Giulio Andreotti and headed the delegation of the Holy See that concluded the disastrous New Concordat with the Italian state in 1985.  Through Monsignor Francesco Brugnaro, the current retired Archbishop of Camerino, Silvestrini was in close contact with Carlo Maria Martini, Archbishop of Milan, but not yet cardinal, whose future destiny he sensed.  All of this was twenty-five years before the “Mafia of St. Gallen”.

We agreed with the priest to share this information, which was also passed on to John Paul II, and indeed also published through Wanda Poltawska, who became aware of many things through her friendship with Cardinal Edouard Gagnon (1918–2007), a friend of Monsignor Marini.  Some of these revelations have been published by Impact Suisse and Si Si No No magazines and the Courrier de Rome.  Forty years have passed and I fondly remember Monsignor Mario Marini, a priest who has always served the Church with apostolic zeal and who was one of the first to denounce the existence of a “mafia” in the Church.  The reason for this was the successful book by Julia Meloni.  But what did Msgr. Marini say at the time?  That could be the subject of another article.

 * Roberto de Mattei, historian, father of five children, professor of modern history and the history of Christianity at the European University of Rome, chairman of the Lepanto Foundation, author of numerous books, most recently in German and English translation: Defense of tradition: The insurmountable truth of Christ, with a foreword by Martin Mosebach, Altötting 2017 and The Second Vatican Council.  A previously unwritten story, 2nd exp.  Edition, Bobingen 2011.

Books by Prof. Roberto de Mattei in German translation and the books by Martin Mosebach can be obtained from our partner bookstore.

Translation: Giuseppe Nardi

Image: Corrispondenza Romana

Trans: Tancred venron99@hotmail.com


  1. I'm suspicious of any author who reaches out to Thug Gordon to write a forward.

  2. Didn't Preppy Marshall cover all of this ground a few years ago?
    This is why she had Thug write the forward. Knowing that Preppy and Thug are on the outs, she knew this would zing him.

  3. The prep and the thug broke up? I stopped watching when I couldn't explain why the Red Sea Pedestrians were letting them get away with their shit.


  4. The book is a distraction


  5. I love TFP but there are some questionable dimensions to it, namely the connections to Pan Europa Bewegung and the Freemason Kalergi, I haven’t fully explored.

    Plinio believed in a new European aristocracy of Jewish-Catholics, of course Jewish converts, but that doesn’t sound like a sound foundation to me.

    De Mattei, likewise, is great, but he’s TFP.

  6. I love TFP but there are some questionable dimensions to it, namely the connections to Pan Europa Bewegung and the Freemason Kalergi, I haven’t fully explored.

    Plinio believed in a new European aristocracy of Jewish-Catholics, of course Jewish converts, but that doesn’t sound like a sound foundation to me.

    De Mattei, likewise, is great, but he’s TFP.

  7. De Mattei is also pro-Jab