Anti-Pope posters reveal deep divisions in the Catholic Church

Anti-Pope posters reveal deep divisions in the Catholic Church

Earlier this month, authorities in Rome sprang into action to cover up a series of posters that sprang up all over the city.

The posters, according to Fox News, showed a scowling Pope above the words:

Ah Francis, you’ve taken over congregations, removed priests, decapitated the Order of Malta and the Franciscans of the Immaculate, ignored Cardinals … but where’s your mercy?

Italian police frantically searched security camera footage for the culprits. But there were been few leads and no group has claimed responsibility for the posters.

However some are pointing fingers at conservative factions within the Catholic Church because the posters, which had a message about the “decapitation” of the Knights of Malta, appeared on the same day that Francis appointed his own special delegate to that patrician order – a move his critics called called a hostile takeover.

The BBC pointed out today that, at roughly the same time the posters were plastered around the city’s walls, cardinals in Rome were opening their email inboxes to find a “fake” front page of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. It had the traditional Latin motto which sits on the paper’s masthead beneath a papal coat of arms, and a list of questions sent to the Pope by a group of conservative cardinals, with the answer, in each case, “Sic et non!” – “Yes and no!”

The BBC’s man in Rome, Christopher Lamb, said:

This is the Pope being trolled on his home turf – and what’s more, in Latin.

While Francis enjoys huge popularity among many ordinary Catholics he’s facing resistance to his shake-up of the Vatican and he’s infuriating believers from the Church’s more traditional wing. The main source of tension has been – yes – sex.

Francis wants to give communion to divorcees who have married again; his opponents say this undermines the Church’s teaching on marriage, because second unions are adulterous. The questions shown on the spoof front page were all on this subject.

Lamb added that at the forefront of the opposition to Pope Francis is an American Cardinal, Raymond Burke, a stickler for the rules who once told John Kerry, when he was a presidential candidate, that he could not receive communion because of his previous support for abortion.

Cardinal Burke has dedicated much of his life to studying the church’s laws, and he wants to ensure they are enforced. He believes this Pope is tinkering dangerously with Christianity’s 2,000-year-old tradition and has even threatened to issue an “act of correction” against Francis. This would be a very bold, highly unusual move – it hasn’t happened for centuries.

Pope Francis’s progressive agenda on issues like migration, climate change and poverty has earned him global popularity – particularly among more liberal Catholics – that eluded his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. But he’s drawn scorn and sharp criticism among conservative members of the church because he’s marginalised or demoted many Vatican traditionalists and his controversial exhortation on family and divorce, Amoris Laetitia – (The Joy of Love) –lacked clarity.

Chad Pecknold, an associate professor of systematic theology at the Catholic University of America, told Fox News:

This is a symptom of not having a clear reform. There has been not clear consensus of understanding when it comes to Amoris Laetitia.

Hat tip: AgentCormac

13 responses to “Anti-Pope posters reveal deep divisions in the Catholic Church”

  1. John says:

    I am not sure a valid “act of correction” can be issued now.
    I would have thought the so-called doctrine of papal infallibility – dating from 1870 – would have superseded any possibility of an “act of correction”, particularly on doctrinal matters. See
    How can a mere cardinal correct a pope?

  2. tonye says:

    The phrase “the Church’s teaching on marriage, because second unions are adulterous.” tickles me.

    It seems this memo did not make it to either Mary or god, who go on to have a quick fumble behind Joseph’s back.

    Only religion can do rank hypocrisy in such a grand scale.

  3. Angela_K says:

    Wouldn’t it great if the Italian police put as much effort into catching the paedophile priests as they do for a few fly posters. I expect the Vatican has control of the police, hence the priority.

  4. John says:

    This is truly appalling: “Child abuse: 7% of Australian Catholic priests alleged to be involved.”
    It puts this tiny in-house spat into proper perspective.

  5. Smokey says:

    And once again we see the stark divide between church and congregation, a sure sign of yet another brand of superstition slowly going extinct.

    Let’s make the Catholic Church great again by going back to the dark ages. And let’s try to take the congregation with us…

    Is this why they have to explain what the Pope really meant after he said something nice and progressive? The Pope farts rainbows, and we don’t notice the stink until the next day.

    Fool me once…

  6. John says:

    Burke issued his threat of an act of correction last November.
    Maybe he has realised he cannot do it now?

  7. AgentCormac says:

    The quicker they all tear themselves apart the better as far as I’m concerned.

  8. lonbo says:

    Die church, die!

  9. andym says:

    Could the present Pope’s “attempts” at reformism be seen as a mock battle designed to keep the troops onside? Frankie makes a few liberal statements, and the masses say, “Oh, isn’t he wonderful?”The hierarchy feign anger, while carrying on in the self-aggrandising way they do so well. To your average catholic, the RCC can be presented as basically benign with just a few reactionaries.This incidence could either just be part of that strategy, or there are people who haven’t read their lines.

  10. sailor1031 says:

    @John: the pope is only infallible when he makes a pronouncement about “faith or morals” from his official papal throne “ex cathedra”. This has only happened once since this ridiculous rule was instituted at Vatican 1. Nothing Francis has said or ruled on or done has been “infallible” by this criterion so the bishops may indeed oppose him. For instance taking over the Knights of Malta organization is not “faith or morals” it is mere church organization…..

  11. Brian Jordan says:

    a list of questions sent to the Pope by a group of conservative cardinals, with the answer, in each case, “Sic et non!” – “Yes and no!”
    They would be ecumenical matters.

  12. Trevor Blake says:

    Fortunately, religious terrorism does not exist. Pope Francis said so. All you IRA victims, you 7/7 or 9/11 victims, you need to just shut up.

  13. John says:

    Sailor 1031:
    The intervention in the affairs of the Knights of Malta is just a power play.
    Quite what lies behind it is anyone’s guess.
    Burke could – I believe – run a risk of contravening the papal doctrine; in which case, he takes a risk of being excommunicated by the top guy.
    All these doctrinal questions are more slippery than a bunch of eels; who would want to argue doctrine with the Vatican, who – invariably – always get the last word?