…Clarifies controversial issues
By Constaincia Uruakpa
The Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis is no stranger to criticisms. Even after coming back from hospital, where he went for an operation, to relieve severe stricture of the colon, caused by diverticulitis, Pope Francis with his typical sense of humour, stated that some people wanted him to die. After the operation, rumors circulated on social media and in online posts that Pope Francis might soon resign, based in part on other unsubstantiated claims that the Pope was possibly suffering from a degenerative and chronic disease. While addressing an ecumenical meeting at the Apostolic Nunciature in Bratislava, Slovakia, on September 12, 2021, Pope Francis said that there were people who wanted him to die after he underwent the colon surgery in July.
During the encounter, a three-day visit, which took place September12-15, and was Pope Francis’ first trip since being hospitalized on July 4, a Jesuit priest asked the pope how he was doing, to which the Pontiff replied: “Still alive, even though some people wanted me to die.” “I know there were even meetings between prelates, who thought the pope’s condition was more serious than the official version. They were preparing for the Conclave. Patience! Thank God, I’m all right”, he said. Answering questions from fellow Jesuits at the closed-door meeting Pope Francis took time to explain some of the controversies that elicited criticism of his person, from some quarters in the Church. During the encounter, one of the priests spoke about tension in the Catholic Church in Slovakia, saying that some people saw Pope Francis as heterodox, while others idealize him.
“We Jesuits try to overcome this division. How do you deal with people who look at you with suspicion?” the priest asked. For his part, Pope Francis noted that, “there is, for example, a large Catholic television channel that has no hesitation in continually speaking ill of the pope. “I personally deserve attacks and insults because I am a sinner, but the Church does not deserve them. They are the work of the devil”, the Pope said. The Pope noted that there were clerics who also had made nasty comments about him, without entering into dialogue with him. “I sometimes lose patience, especially when they make judgments without entering into a real dialogue. I can’t do anything there. However, I go on without entering their world of ideas and fantasies. I don’t want to enter it and that’s why I prefer to preach, preach”, he said.
Pope Francis disclosed that some people had accused him of being a communist, and that he never talked on holiness. “Some people accuse me of not talking about holiness. They say I always talk about social issues and that I’m a communist. Yet, I wrote an entire apostolic exhortation on holiness, Gaudete et exsultate”, he said. The Pope went on to address his recent restrictions on the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, which were made in the July 16 motu proprio Traditionis custodes. “Now I hope that with the decision to stop the automatism of the ancient rite, we can return to the true intentions of Benedict XVI and John Paul II. From now on, those who want to celebrate with the Vetus Ordo (Traditional Latin Mass) must ask permission from Rome, as is done with biritualism”, he said. Pope Francis described the case of some young priests who had asked for permission to offer the Traditional Latin Mass from their bishop, a month after ordination, as a phenomenon that indicates that “we are going backward.
” In an earlier part of the meeting, Pope Francis had lamented an ideology of going backward, which he said was not a universal problem in the Church, but affected some countries. “The temptation to go backward. We are suffering this today in the Church,” he said. Since the early days of this Papacy, there has been a growing and concentrated effort to undercut Pope Francis’ message. Catholic media outlets and public figures once regarded as reliably orthodox and faithful to the magisterium began to question his words and teachings. Off-the-cuff statements were taken out of context and interpreted as insults to devout Catholics. His encyclical on care for creation, “Laudato Si’,” was met by critics who decried his reliance on “unsettled science” and his criticism of capitalism.
As this Papacy has progressed, the reactions of several media organizations and periodicals popular with U.S. Catholics progressed from positive to wary to suspicious. When the pope’s apostolic exhortation on marriage and family, “Amoris Laetitia,” was released on April 8, 2016, many of those outlets became openly hostile. The opposition to the Pope, bolstered by the publication of a document signed by four cardinals who insinuated that “Amoris Laetitia” violated immutable Catholic doctrines on marriage, adultery and objective truth has become relentless . Well-known Catholic apologists who openly encourage opposition to Pope Francis and the bishops have wildly popular multimedia platforms, and go largely unchallenged by church leaders.
This is not simply a social media phenomenon. religious figures like Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former Vatican Nuncio to the United States, has repeatedly attacked Pope Francis after calling for the pope to resign in 2018. Articles disparaging the pope are shared among groups of Catholics and posted on parish websites, where several people who belong to Catholic book clubs, refuse to read anything by Pope Francis. It is gathered from some reports that families and communities in some countries are divided over Pope Francis. In some parishes and even some diocesan seminaries, negativity towards Pope Francis has become so commonplace, that those who support him feel compelled to keep their views to themselves. Biritualism is the temporary or permanent privilege of a priest to celebrate the liturgy and administer the sacraments in more than one rite, such as the Latin Rite and one of the Eastern rites.