Pope honoured to be attacked by Americans

Pope Francis says it is an honour to be attacked about issues ranging from theology to climate change and for US Church conservatives and their Catholic media allies to ask for his resignation.

Commenting on a new book (“How America Wants to Change the Pope”) that he’s heard of but has not yet read, Francis acknowledged the US Catholic Church’s conservative right-wing’s growing opposition to him.

In the book, author Nicholas Seneze charts the fierce criticism some American conservatives have for Francis.

To them, Francis’s outreach to migrants and China is an anathema, as are his denunciation of free-market capitalism, his environmental concerns and his relaxation of church rules on the death penalty and sacraments for civilly remarried Catholics.

Some opponents have accused Francis of heresy.

Seneze describes the network of conservative commentators, political operatives, theologians and churchmen who have harried Francis, often through well-funded Catholic news outlets and foundations.

They include Cardinal Raymond Burke, whom Francis ousted as a Vatican supreme court justice, and former White House adviser Steve Bannon.

Seneze claims well-funded, right-wing Catholic media also express their disapproval loudly.

In addition, he says wealthy Catholics are funding initiatives to discredit Francis’s allies.

Their aim is to elect a conservative, doctrine-minded churchman as the next pope.

Seneze says he wanted the book to show the way Francis responded to the problems with the US church with “spiritual weapons.”

“For me, it’s an honour if the Americans attack me,” Francis quipped. As he handed the book to an aide, the pope added “This is a bombshell.”

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni sought to clarify the pope’s comments afterward, stressing they came in an “informal context” and that Francis always welcomes criticism.

Francis’s remarks about America were made yesterday at press conference during his flight to “the peripheries”, where he is undertaking a three-nation tour of sub-Saharan Africa: Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius.

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News category: World.

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