Indian heft for Pope
Vatican City: Senior Roman Catholic cardinals from around the world, including India, defended Pope Francis Monday against a spate of recent attacks from conservatives challenging his authority.
In an unusual move, nine cardinals in a group advising Francis on Vatican economic and structural reforms issued a statement expressing “full support for the Pope’s work” and guaranteeing “full backing for him and his teachings”.
The statement was unusual in that the cardinals – from Italy, Chile, Austria, India (Oswald Gracias of Mumbai), Germany, Congo, the US, Australia and Honduras – customarily issue statements only at the end of their meetings, which are held four times a year.
The statement said the cardinals expressed their solidarity with the Pope “in light of recent events”, which Vatican sources said was a clear reference to the attacks.
On February 4, mystery activists working under cover of dark plastered posters around Rome criticising the Pope. The posters accused him of several controversial acts, including what they called “the decapitation of the Knights of Malta”.
This was a reference to an ancient Catholic order of knights, which is now a worldwide charity. Its former grand master handed in his resignation after he and his main backer, American Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, lost a battle with the Vatican for control of the order.
Burke has become a rallying point for conservatives who think the Pope is taking the 1.2-billion-member Church too far to the Left and accuse him of showing more concern for social issues such as poverty and climate change than moral doctrine.
Last week, a fake electronic edition of the Vatican daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, was sent anonymously to Vatican officials and journalists.
It poked fun at the Pope for not having responded to a rare public challenge in November by four conservative cardinals, led by Burke, who accused him of sowing confusion on important moral issues such as homosexuality and divorce.