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