There’s much verbiage these days about Sankt Gallen, Switzerland, that is, about the members of the group named after that mountain village. Memories are jogged. Hence, me writing this post trying to figure out any connections I was perhaps being brought to have… For such things I think best through my keyboard, an autism thing. Apologies for this soliloquy. My heart stopping naïveté back in the day was surely the driving engine of my baiting baiters to clarify their meta-motivations reaching into dark power. I hate my own naïveté. Counter-baiting has become familiar. There’s more deadly intrigue to interreligious… synodality… than I at first thought.
The above picture is not in Sankt Gallen, Switzerland, but it is more Sankt Gallen than Sankt Gallen could ever dream of being. What is pictured above is in extraterritorial property of the Holy See in the Trastevere district of Rome, Italy. But I’m talking some years ago. I have no idea what’s going on now. But back in the day… And yet, while I’ve written of some of this quite extensively elsewhere, I still was not making connections. Those happen only as years and decades wear on and on. Some further connections were made in my little brain in these last weeks.
As it is, I’ve spent waaay tooo much time on the upper floor of this, what I call the Pentagon of the Holy See, enough time spent on that upper floor, in fact, to be recruited (in the opposite direction) by a merely near-the-top-official of the Guardia di Finanza… of Italy… to spy for him on the Cardinals right around that upper floor, but not so much on mere financial matters (he had all that in hand, a source of humor to him), but he instead wanted more on all that which might be used to extort the Princes of the Church into being clownish puppets of certain political agendas, not that some of them weren’t already all of that and more. And I’m sure he knew that. When you recruit a spy, the first assignment you give is a setup. You already know what is to be discovered, and you compare your notes with what that spy reports back to you. Everyone thinks they are more clever than the next guy but finally they should come to the realization that both “sides”, if you will, have been acting for the same String Puller a further level up, or many levels up, and common to both “sides.” But, I never did up the spy thing. Not my wheel-house. Not my thing.
My real “assignment”, if you will, came not from any Italian law enforcement bureaucrat, but from a third-party friend in – um… – rather high places in the Holy See. The assignment, the logistics of which he personally arranged, was simply to attain an understanding of “how things work.” Period. Just for my knowledge. That would be enough, for now. Fine.
But times change. What was then a source of scandal and betrayal of the Church – such as any homosexualist mafia – that which cries out to heaven for vengeance, fodder for extortionist blackmail, is now held to be clever and sophisticated, giving perps bragging rites, whether priests, bishops, cardinals. Very smart, all that.
Just when you congratulate yourself on lacking in naïveté, that’s when you’re proven oh so wrong. There is always more evil.
Cardinal Achille Silvestrini had an apartment on that top floor. Never met him except perhaps in passing, surely at those Masses in Saint Peter’s Basilica when those in red sit in a semi-circle in front of the Papal Altar. But I was brought to the door of his apartment plenty of times on that upper floor mentioned above by The String Puller For All® whilst we paced about the porch of that contorted “Pentagon,” that String Puller For All®, mind you, being one of many Cardinals who also lived on that upper floor. He’s not considered to be part of the Sankt Gallen mafia (although I should get that recent book to see if there’s an index of names). But, just to say, no String Puller is ever so extremely public.
Anyway, the String Puller For All® discussed with me just there, at Silvestrini’s rather remarkable, Hobbit-esque entrance into his apartment, cluttered with nailed up Hobbit-esque art-work… we discussed Silvestrini’s viability in geo-politically entrenched affairs, he having been tasked with all things Oriental. Very soon after such discussions, Silvestrini was inducted into the Sankt Gallen mafia rather more incisively. But don’t blame me for that. I said nary a word. The String Puller For All® was simply wanting me to study up on Silvestrini’s efforts with all things Oriental. And only now, decades later, do I see other extremely close connections with the String Puller For All®, with Silvestrini, with others that String Puller named to me, all of them close friends and associates on any number of levels all at the very top of their game in the Holy See.
It was also at this time that the same String Puller For All® arranged that I do a favor for Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, at the time, Archbishop of Milan. Martini did not live on that upper floor, of course, as he was a Jesuit, and had other residences in which to stay while in Rome.
Without my knowledge, some skill sets of yours truly were offered by the String Puller For All® to Martini, who apparently needed a last-second priest to give a spiritual retreat to a group of his Ambrosian priests. The retreat took place halfway up the eastern shore of Lago Maggiore north of Milan, in the Italian Alps. The String Puller For All® lent me his Vatican provided car, of course. Sankt Gallen was only a few hours drive though the chocolate district of Switzerland (and I did also make that chocolate tour later with that String Puller For All® on another trip, though stopping short of Sankt Gallen with a sudden and emoted change of mind, quite stunning really, as if he remembered who might inconveniently be there just then). I remember it like it happened just an hour ago. Stunning.
Anyway, the retreatants included Martini’s Top Dog (as it were, an intense and skeptical man, given to analysis of persons), as well as a number of Martini’s priests openly presenting themselves as severely troubled in their vocations, to the point of leaving the priesthood, and the rest of whom had turned into mindless embodiments of whatever heresies of the day, those heresies being espoused, mind you, if I remember correctly, by Martini himself. These heresies were put out as open challenges to me during the retreat conferences from the get-go, meaning that the planned conferences never really took place. The retreat was about taking such priests with their apparently impromptu challenges to the feet of Jesus in such manner that they couldn’t answer except to place their fingers into the nail-wounds of Jesus and their hands into His side. They were speechless at perhaps meeting Jesus in this way for the first time, you know, Jesus instead of ideology. My discussions with the Top Dog, both publicly and privately (not spiritual direction), were more like interrogations that he made of me on behalf of the Cardinal. I think the answering-with-Jesus-retreat mystified him, befuddled that a student of the Jesuit’s highest academic institution, the Pontifical Biblical Institute, and sent by The String Puller For All®, himself an alumnus of the PBI, as was Cardinal Martini, could and would do such a thing. Was I just not revealing my true self? I thought I was clear, but with these guys… Yet, I think a couple of them were shaken up by our Lord Jesus, which was quite the consolation for me.
At this time there was another incident, if you will, involving Martini and what could only be the Sankt Gallen group, but maybe not. 99.99%. Martini, The String Puller For All®, and myself we’re all friends in the sense that although I had never personally met Martini, we were both close friends of The String Puller For All®. I mean, I might have possibly met Martini in passing at the Biblicum or at a Papal Mass of some kind. But here’s the deal: I was approached by a doctoral candidate in the caves of the library of said Jesuit Institute and after my identity was confirmed, I was told that I was being asked to do up a translation of an article of Martini into English. Easy peasy, thought I. But strange. So, I played this for some weeks without giving an answer, giving excuses about deadlines and obligations. Martini has a thousand translators at his fingertips in his largest of all archdioceses, and translators among the Jesuits, among past students, in his massive chancery bureaucracy. His literary output made him his own publishing empire. He was continuously being translated into numerous languages including English as publishing houses tried to glom on to the fame of this most papabile Cardinal. So, why me?
The Biblicum guy was getting impatient with my delaying tactics and he would ask me about it. Each time I was able to bait out a little more information, or lack thereof. For instance, I discovered that it was very specifically myself that was requested to do this translation, and that those asking were members of a special group, all of whom remained nameless including their group. Finally I read the article over because it was getting to be all too weird. Oh my. This was a test about myself and surely had nothing to do with getting someone competent to do a simple translation. It was the most outrageous and concise collection of heresy that the Cardinal had ever put in one place, all very clever, but really, he just laid it out for all to see. Would I do it? That would say a lot about me. No, I wouldn’t do it. The guy freaked out though trying to keep polite composure: I had to do it. Um… No. But why? I remained ambiguous. I didn’t tell him that I couldn’t participate with such heresy, a conscience-thing for me, because I wanted to see what the repercussions would be for refusing, you know, without necessarily having torched any bridges. I remained an enigma. And I was still friends with The String Puller For All®.
Meanwhile, my highly placed friend of many decades informed me a number of times that I was starting to be “feared” around Rome. This surprised me, though it was inevitable. The degrees and the “friends” I had – in all my naïveté – were the basis of this. The highest figures in the Secretariat of State and various dicasteries were, incredibly – with me never having met them – defending me if there was ever any criticism leveled against me at whatever high-level meetings, as was reported to me on a regular basis by the String Puller For All®. It has now become clear to me that I was to be brought into the Congregation for […], and now that I see what has happened in […], I am… so very happy to be in this tiny parish in Appalachia.
Just a few months before the abdication[?] of Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Martini died. A few years previously he had detailed the voting of the 2005 Conclave with far-distant group, so remote that he perhaps thought this was “safe.” Instead, one of that group provided me with the details of that Conclave and how it is that Martini had informed them of all this. Frightening. A year and some later, The String Puller For All® died. So many, gone.
But there are many remaining in the above narrative line who are still alive and at the top of their game. One is at the very top who is at the very top of his game. I’ve erased much of this post. I have to let some connections that I’ve only now seen sink in a bit more.