(Emmanuele Barbieri-Roberto de Mattei) Who is the real author of the writings of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò in the years 2020-2021? Let’s try to offer an answer to the question that we raised in Corrispondenza Romana (here), starting with a sure method: the analysis and comparison of the writings with the texts of other authors traceable on the web. What in scientific jargon is called stylometric research.
Well then, the analysis of lexical and stylistic elements leads us to only one possible author: “Cesare Baronio,” or “Baronius,” creator and author, from 2010 to 2020, of the blog Opportune Importune.
“Cesare Baronio” is, however, itself a pseudonym and the next step will be to try to reveal his identity.
We have conducted an extensive analysis of the similarities of style and content between Baronio’s texts and those we will now ascribe to Viganò II, to distinguish these writings of 2020-2021 from the very different ones of Viganò I, of the years 2018-2019. For reasons of space we will limit ourselves to a few examples.
Vatican Council II is repeatedly defined by both as an “idol.” For Baronio, until “the conciliar idol is overthrown, together with the unhappy memory of its architects, it will be impossible to punish the high priests who have besieged Rome for fifty years” (January 10 2013, here). Viganò II, in his recent Interview on the Liturgy, also defines Vatican II as an idol and, like Baronio, establishes a Vatican II-Novus Ordo Missae equivalence.
Baronio and Viganò II, when referring to the Novus Ordo of Paul VI, always speak of the “reformed rite” or “Montinian rite.” Viganò II writes that “the architects of that liturgy” were “prelates often suspected of belonging to Freemasonry, notoriously progressive” (here) ; Baronio in turn speaks of “a rite composed by notoriously progressive and Masonic prelates” (November 25 2018, here).
The books of the new liturgy to Baronio are “printed missals whose function was that of a plotline to refer to for editions in the various national languages” (January 15 2013, here). For Viganò II, these liturgical books “are conceived as an outline, a plotline at the mercy of more or less talented actors in search of public applause” (here).
According to Viganò “the so-called ‘Gothic chasuble’ in the forms that preceded the Council, especially in France, has become that sort of poncho which after the Council was passed off on us as a recovery of the original form,” but is “a historical as well as liturgical counterfeit” (here). Baronio had written that: “the conciliar chasuble is a horrid poncho that has nothing to do with the planeta described by Saint Charles Borromeo (Instructionum fabricae, 1557), which we find depicted in many frescoes, paintings, miniatures and enamels since the Middle Ages” (January 11 2014, here).
Viganò denounces “attempts to make the reformed liturgy presentable with objectively useless operations of maquillage” (here). Baronio writes that “operations of ritual maquillage on the Novus Ordo are in our view destined in the majority of cases for the most miserable shipwreck” (January 15, 2013, here).
One could go on indefinitely, but what matters most beyond the verbal coincidences is the identical tone, which expresses a smug liturgical, theological, and historical knowledge that Baronio has flaunted for ten years on his blog but is completely absent from the two years of public statements by Viganò I.
But who is hiding behind the pseudonym of Cesare Baronio (1538-1607), the famous Oratorian cardinal and historian, a pupil of St. Philip Neri?
It could be said that the solution of the mystery does not matter much, because what counts is not “who” said it, but “what” is said. The problem, however, arises precisely from some extravagant statements of Baronio-Viganò II, above all in matters of eschatology and the “Great Reset,” which pose disturbing questions about the true identity of the theological-liturgical consultant of the Milanese archbishop.
Unfortunately, behind the pseudonym of Cesare Baronio there seems to be hiding not a theologian of sure doctrine but a figure not lacking in intelligence and ecclesiastical culture, but lacking in the consistency and integrity that make an associate reliable. A figure who in his life has assumed and continues to assume multiple identities and who with the last identity assumed, that of Archbishop Viganò, is achieving what he may have always wanted: to present himself as a churchman without the pastoral obligations and morals that this high calling entails.
At this point all that is left is to name the figure, using not generic rumors but documents and sources that we have inspected: the name of “His Eminence Cesare Baronio” is Pietro Siffi.
But who is this person?
We have to start from a specific date. On May 8 2020 Archbishop Viganò launched an appeal against the “New World Order,” denouncing “the new tower of Babel, the Covid house of cards, the vaccine farce, the fraud of the Great Reset,” along with the signatures of cardinals Gerhard Müller, Joseph Zen Zekiun, and Robert Sarah, who later withdrew it. This appeal was the first document to prompt serious questions in the Catholic world close to him, to the point of inducing some of his friends and admirers not to endorse it.
What has come out since then is that Archbishop Viganò turned to one of his associates to arrange for the publication and signing of the appeal. In that month of May, the associate sent out an “IMPORTANT AND URGENT!” notification in which, “at the request of His Excellency Archbishop Viganò,” he addressed a request of support for the document, to be sent to his personal e-mail.
Well then, in the notification of May 2020, the name and e-mail address of Archbishop Viganò’s associate in charge of collecting the signatures were those of Pietro Siffi, a well-known and controversial figure in the Italian traditionalist world.
Pietro Siffi was born in Venice on September 11 1969. He received Confirmation at the Parish of Sts. Zechariah and Athanasius on May 22 1984. After studying at the “Marco Foscarini” high school in Venice, he entered the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, where at the “Saint Curé d’Ars” seminary in Flavigny sur Ozerain (France), on February 1 1990 he received Confirmation “sub conditione.” Two days later he received the tonsure in Flavigny, becoming a member of the FSSPX. But after some time he left, or was forced to leave, the Fraternity. We do not know the reasons, just as we do not know what are the reasons that a few years later led him to leave the Institute of Christ the King High Priest in Gricigliano where he entered (and left) as a seminarian.
From 1990 to 1994 Siffi attended Sorbonne University (here), then for some time traces of him are lost, even if some consider him the author of an embarrassing book published under a pseudonym.
Pietro Siffi certainly continued to cultivate his ecclesiastical interests. In 2007, through the presses of Marietti Editore, he edited the republication of the Compendium of Practical Liturgy by Father Ludovico Trimeloni with a preface by Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.
In the Compendium of Trimeloni, Siffi presents himself as president of the Archivum Liturgicum of Ferrara. On March 14 2007, on the blog Archivum liturgicum, “Baronio” or “Baronius” announced that the Compendium of Practical Liturgy was about to be released (here), but the first announcement of the work’s publication dates back to September 25 2006, and Siffi is presented as president of the Archivum Liturgicum Sacrosanctae Romanae Ecclesiae…
It had already been announced that Benedict XVI would liberalize the ancient Roman liturgy (here). Evidently Baronio/Siffi has good information from the traditional and Vatican world and in 2007 he published a book on the Mass of St. Pius V (here and here).
An article by Roberto Beretta in Avvenire of January 25 2008 reviews in far from glowing terms the third edition of the Compendium of Practical Liturgy by Trimeloni-Siffi, then in its second reprint. Avvenire of January 29 2008 hosted the reply from Siffi, who introduced himself as “Pietro Siffi degli Ordelaffi, count of Sassorosso” (see here). In reality, in the Golden Book of the Italian Nobility published by the Collegio Araldico, editions 1986-1989 and later, there turns out to be no such thing as a Count Siffi degli Ordelaffi.
Siffi is not only a traditionalist writer and liturgist. He is an entrepreneur. In 2010 he created “Ars Regia” in Ferrara (here) , which he presents in a “soft” and seductive manner as “an interior design studio specialized in providing prestigious furnishing accessories and exclusive art fabrics.” “Our furnishing accessories bring a touch of subtle elegance and charm to home or hipster spot, standing out from mass-produced offerings and conferring a decidedly exclusive and glamorous comfort, where this term does not mean mere beauty but an attitude, a feeling, a state of mind, with all the implications of elegance, sensuality, and seduction. The fashionable image, the cultured and evocative charm of the East and India, the image-laden and unmistakable luxury that recalls famous locations of the Côte d’Azur, Greece, Spain, or California are all elements that can radically improve the appearance of a private residence, a place by the sea, a lounge bar: passion for dwelling and living, for domestic warmth but also for whimsical worldly fervor.”
During the recitation of the Angelus on October 10 2010, a new papal coat of arms for Benedict XVI appeared, adorned with the tiara according to the ancient custom. Siffi, creator of the coat of arms, commented: “This coat of arms, entirely hand-embroidered, was made by the Ferrara sacred vestments workshop Ars Regia and brings back the shield with the emblems of the Pontiff and the Pallium decorated with red crosses. (…) The difference with respect to the previous model – which some attribute to Cardinal Montezemolo – is that this coat of arms once again bears the tiara – the triple crown of the Supreme Pontiff – instead of the miter, restoring the ancient custom, which not even John Paul II had renounced” (here).
At the Angelus on October 24 2010, the coat of arms that had mysteriously appeared just as mysteriously disappeared. Here is the commentary from Baronio, which as many know is the pseudonym chosen by Pietro Siffi to continue, on the new blog Opportune Importune inaugurated in 2010, his learned disquisitions in the fields of theology and liturgy.
Baronio defends Pietro Siffi and Ars Regia, then replies to some in a pompous and somewhat effeminate style: “It seems to me that upon Pietro Siffi there weighs a sort of quite hypocritical ostracism, fed not so much by the competitors most in vogue today as by a few petty characters, dapper and démodé, who spend their time denigrating the lives of others, not having one of their own. (…) The disconcerting thing is that these conventicles of grandstanders organize miniature pontificals, unraveling meters upon meters of marbled silk between dinette and bedroom, and do not hesitate to flaunt even on the internet very sad little rooms overflowing with lace and embroidery, mediocre twenties-style sitting rooms with the folding seats, the rugs, the picture of the Twelfth in blessing, a prelate’s hat with its tassel curtain, brooches, cufflinks made with cameos of mommy, gold eyeglasses, gramophones, and the whole repertoire of props as in L’amica di nonna Speranza.
(…) I believe that sooner or later Siffi or someone on his account will get tired of enduring these constant attacks and will begin to give tit for tat – as the saying goes – giving the lie once and for all to these emasculated bourgeois with no expertise nor expectations, as rich in snobbish ambitions as poor in sense of proportion. And I am sure that if certain little altars were discovered, if certain uncomfortable truths were brought to light, perhaps they would stop giving grief to their neighbor…” (here).
In 2011 Siffi founded along with Fabio Zardi a planning and decoration studio that in 2019 was divided into two companies: Fabio deals with floral design and decoration, Pietro dedicates himself to planning and organizing events including weddings (see here).
Siffi casually passes from cultural and literary activity to the liturgy, from sacred furnishings to the organization of weddings, and it is in this latter field that we discover a disconcerting revelation: the multifaceted figure even organizes gay weddings!
On Pietro Siffi’s website we find, among other things, the “Project tag: marriage gay” (here) and the “wedding” service of two men, Arman and Dylan, on the Greek island of Santorini complete with video (here). The homosexual travel agency Travelgay calls Santorini “a splendid island, warm and hospitable, located in the Aegean Sea, after Mykonos undoubtedly the one most appreciated by the Italian market and also loved by the gay and lesbian market” (here).
In this case Archbishop Viganò, who is a very respectable prelate, risks losing his credibility and must realize that he can regain it only when he changes the tone and content of his public statements, carelessly entrusted to a controversial associate. One cannot separate what appears publicly under the name of Archbishop Viganò from the identity of the one who seems to be the author of his writings.
At this point we ask of Archbishop Viganò: is it true or not that he makes use, in whole or in part, of the help of Pietro Siffi?
Was Archbishop Viganò aware of Siffi’s multiple activities?
But the most important question we ask of him is this: is Archbishop Viganò willing to publicly distance himself from the figure we suggest could be his ghostwriter?
Archbishop Viganò is a man who may be reckless but is certainly honest. We ask him to tell the truth, because the truth redeems any error, while the lie burdens the error, even a blameless one, with a grave moral responsibility.
As for Pietro Siffi, we did not want to enter into his private life, which belongs to him alone, but have limited ourselves to presenting what is publicly known about him, even under different identities and disguises. We also ask him to acknowledge his responsibility, contending with his real name in the intellectual debate of our time, to which he has made and will continue to make his contribution.
For our part, we have moved along the path of the counsel that Saint Pius X gave to journalists and Leo XIII gave to historians: the Church is never afraid of the Truth. (Emmanuele Barbieri-Roberto de Mattei)