Pope Francis rebuked his critics in America this week by saying he was “honored” to be attacked by them.
According to Crux, the Holy Father made his comments while aboard a papal flight to Mozambique after a French reporter presented him with a book detailing the American conservative opposition to the Francis papacy – “How America Wanted to Change the Pope” by Nicolas Seneze.
“For me, it’s an honor that Americans are attacking me,” Francis told the La Croix reporter.
As Pope Francis handed the book over to an aide, he jokingly said, “This is a bomb.”
Shortly after the flight, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni attempted to clarify the pope’s comments by saying they were made “in an informal context” and that the Holy Father “wanted to say that he always considers criticisms an honor, particularly when it comes from important thinkers and, in this case, of an important nation.”
In other words, Bruni claims that Pope Francis did not mean to dismiss his critics but rather welcomed their viewpoints.
The book reportedly focuses on what motivates the right-wing opposition to Pope Francis in the United States, which goes beyond his views on economics and also includes his response to the sexual abuse crisis and his elevating liberal clerics (such as Father James Martin and Cardinal Blase Cupich) while sidelining conservatives (such as Cardinal Raymond Burke and Cardinal Ludwig Mueller). Crux provided more details:
A long-time Vatican reporter from the French Catholic daily, Seneze told the pope that he wanted to explain the roots of American opposition to the Argentine, which has the support of several right-wing news outlets. In his book, Seneze names EWTN, founded by the late Mother Angelica, and Canada-based LifeSiteNews.
The criticism against Francis is based on several points: His cautious opening to allowing the divorced and remarried to receive the Sacraments, his emphasis on the environment, his strong condemnation of the death penalty, and his criticism of the capitalist economic order championed by conservatives in the United States.
Seneze even goes so far to argue in his book that conservatives ultimately seek to overthrow Pope Francis and “trigger” a new conclave to elect another pope in his place. He cites an organization called the “Red Hat Report” as proof of this conspiracy.
“The Red Hat Report claims to be drawing on nearly 100 researchers, academics, investigators, and journalists to investigate every single cardinal elector, with the aim ‘to hold the hierarchy of the Catholic Church accountable for abuse and corruption, and to develop and support honesty, clarity, and fidelity in Church governance,'” reports Crux.
In an 11-page letter released in August of last year, Archbishop Viganò, former Nuncio from the Vatican to Washington, D.C., alleged that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had been sanctioned under Pope Benedict XVI only to have those sanctions removed by Pope Francis upon his ascendancy in 2013. Cardinal McCarrick had an alleged history of sexually abusing male seminarians and, according to Viganò, was ordered by Pope Benedict to refrain from saying Mass or public ministry.
Monsignor Jean-François Lantheaume, the former first counsellor at the apostolic nunciature in Washington, D.C., said flatly that Viganò “said the truth” in his letter, which was followed by several other high-ranking prelates testifying to Viganó’s respectable character.
Shortly after the letter dropped, Pope Francis elected to remain silent and maintained that protocol until this past May when he told Mexican journalist Valentina Alazraki that he “knew nothing” about Cardinal McCarrick’s behavior and did not remember if Archbishop Viganò ever informed him about the sanctions.
“I have said it many times, I knew nothing, no idea,” he said. “And when this guy (Vigano) said that he told me about it that day, that he came … I don’t remember if he told me about this. If it’s true or not. No idea!”