Pope Francis to journalist: ‘I am honored that the Americans attack me.’

Pope Francis is pictured as he greets journalists aboard his flight from Rome to Maputo, Mozambique, Sept. 4, 2019. The pope will also visit Madagascar and Mauritius through Sept. 10. At left is Matteo Bruni, new director of the Vatican Press Office, and at right Msgr. Mauricio Rueda, papal trip planner. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

In an informal exchange aboard the papal plane, Pope Francis told Nicolas Senèze that he is “honored that the Americans attack me” when the French Catholic journalist presented him with a copy of his book How America Wants to Change the Pope (Comment L'Amérique veut changer de Pape) on the flight from Rome to Maputo, Mozambique, on Sept. 4.

The book describes how a wealthy and often traditionalist sector of the American Catholic church—both clerical and lay—attacks Pope Francis and notes that it is already working, with projects such as the “Red Hat Report,” to ensure that the cardinal elected pope at the next conclave is to its liking. It was clear from the context that Pope Francis was referring specifically to that sector of the U.S. church that is mentioned in the book and not to anyone else.

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The pope said he had tried to get a copy of Mr. Senèze's book, but it was not yet available for sale. He then handed the book to an aide and commented with a smile, “This is a bomb!”

Francis thanked Mr. Senèze, a journalist for the French Catholic daily, La Croix, for the book and told him that he had read an article about it in the Rome daily, Il Messaggero. The pope said he had tried to get a copy of it, but it was not yet available for sale. He then handed the book to an aide and commented with a smile, “This is a bomb!”

Shortly after, Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni told journalists that “in an informal context, the pope wished to say that he always considers criticisms as an honor, particularly when they come from authoritative thinkers, and in this case from an important nation.” The pope’s comments indicate he remains aware of the attacks against him from Catholics who disagree with his magisterial teaching and his statements on the economy, climate change, the death penalty, divorced and remarried persons and L.G.B.T. Catholics, as well as efforts by some traditionalist U.S. Catholics to delegitimize his teaching and undermine his pontificate.

Mr. Senèze’s book details the opposition to Pope Francis—which Senèze says comes from “a small minority”—including Cardinal Raymond Burke, Archbishop Charles Chaput and Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò (the former papal nuncio to the United States), as well as from wealthy lay people like Tim Busch and some U.S. Catholic authors like George Weigel, together with a sector of the U.S. Catholic media.

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Javier von Sydow
3 months 1 week ago

Amén.

James B
3 months 1 week ago

I wonder if he would feel honored if American money to the tune of the Papal Foundation, K of C, and Peter’s Pence starts to turn off the gravy train.

Vincent Couling
3 months 1 week ago

The K of C has been accused of fraud, deception and theft ... see https://www.thetablet.co.uk/features/2/16652/the-knights-of-columbus-brothers-in-alms-

Alan Johnstone
3 months 1 week ago

The bishop of Rome occupies on earth the position once held by Peter, a man who ran off at the mouth, rushed in where angels fear to tread, had to be corrected by fellow apostles on the position of unclean vs clean food and was faced with squabbles amongst his fellow disciples.

The holder of the petrine office is the person visible as the apostolic presence in the ONE, HOLY, UNIVERSAL and APOSTOLIC institurion.

Jesus had the wish, the will, the intention for those he saved to be one, as He and the Father are one and it was never thus until now.
The pope has no obligation to put unity before everything else, he always inherits and leaves a community which Jesus caused to have division and strife amongst "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword ... "

I have a varied response to the current incumbent - as in the time of Galileo, he has been badly advised on the science as have many in positions of power.
I can see where he is coming from in the question of Eucharistic sharing with remarried divorcees, is it to be a sign of their repentance or a means of achieving it?
I am bewildered by what seems betrayal of faithful and courageous underground Catholics in mainland China but as Jesus let his apostles be tried and executed there is a precedent and such questions are far beyond my calling to judge.
I cannot sympathise with the THEOLOGICAL preferential option for the poor; Jesus said it is harder for a rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle so my mind says the rich need much more prayer and grace and encouragement if they are not to go to hell. That means North Americans and Western Europeans and Middle East oil barons and the like.

Jay Zamberlin
3 months 1 week ago

Peter was not in need of "correction." It was more than reasonable to assume that Judaism, the same Judaism Jesus adhered to, was to be maintained, at least to some degree. Where that "line" was was an open discussion, and the "correction" was God Himself providing the dream to Peter. So, your point is, Peter is a man with flaws..... I mean...who knew???

Peter did not actively seek the dismantling of the faith. Peter did not openly invite, on several occasions scandal. Peter was not purposely ambiguous on matters of faith and morals. Peter did not lambaste fellow Catholics who simply seek to follow the faith they've known all of their lives. This is not any sort of robust, seamless defense of Francis. Far from it. Many learned scholars are not "feelin" this Pope, and with good reason. Francis detractors certainly 'get' who Peter was, his humanity, warts and all. This goes beyond mere human foibles.

When they hang PF upside down on the Appian Way I may change my mind.

Antony P.
3 months 1 week ago

To say tha “I am honored that the Americans attack me” shows a certain vindictiveness that is not compatible with the Petrine office and ministry. I find this very sad.

Peter Schwimer
3 months 1 week ago

Reading most of the comments today I am trying understand why most of the writers read America. You all clearly do not agree with the philosophical bent of the magazine and its writers. And for those of you who consider yourselves to be "traditional" Catholics (whatever that means) it must be terribly difficult for you to disagree with Pope Francis. And yet you are vehement. How can a traditional Catholic even consider disagreeing with the Pope? Have you considered the irony of your situation?

Jay Zamberlin
3 months 1 week ago

Trads know their faith - better than most Catholics ( of course, the subject is too expansive to "know" completely, or even close). They know about bad Popes, and there've been quite a few. But those Popes were not pursuing a disruption, an abrogation, a major re-interpretation - take your pick - of the Catholic faith itself and therein lies the difference. It's not really an irony. An uncomfortable reality, perhaps. The Church, and its magisterium, is larger than any one man, even a Pope. Trads get that as well. Many Trads bear the scars of Communism, and they understand what leftism augers, and it bodes not well for the life of faith, for Catholicism. The two are diametrically opposed, properly understood. Cardinals pursuing "common ground" or just plain clarity, who have formally sought the same on key pronouncements by this Pope, pronouncements which have troubling aspects, have been ignored and as such, rebuffed by this autocrat Pope. The scandals associated directly to PF are mounting, and he's not taken any responsibility or forthrightness in dealing with any of it, no, if anything, he "doubles down" = or he hides.

So, the key to the "mess" is squarely in the hands of the Pope, but he seems "hell bent" on continuing down his own path that he's chosen, and not to the betterment of the Church nor the enlightenment, the edification, of the faithful.

Bill Mazzella
3 months 1 week ago

Trads are church of pharisees. Francis is of the Spirit.

Andrew Strada
3 months 1 week ago

We are told that one of the problems today is that people only go to sites with which they agree and, therefore, we promote echo chambers that keep us from being exposed to other views. I read America partly to see if I am missing something - and sometimes, to get my blood stirring in the morning. When the Pope is making off-the-cuff remarks on every topic under the sun, he is far from infallible. There is no irony in dismissing many of his unfiltered remarks as just the opinion of a crusty old white guy who may be having a bad day.

Lloyd William
3 months 1 week ago

While I don’t believe Pope Francis is going to make many American friends with his comment, I don’t think it should be a cause for the name calling that we see in some of the comments.
In my opinion, the Pope, like any other leader, has his good points and his not so good points On the positive side, I believe he is very sincere in his desire to bring Christ and his teachings into our lives. He lives a simpler life than many of his predecessors and fellow bishops do today. He has changed the tone of Papal comments toward more forgiveness and acceptance . On the other hand, he could make a much greater effort in bringing transparency to church affairs as well as instituting reforms in church management and direction, making it a true partnership among the clergy, religious, and laity. He rightly attacks clericalism but reforms in church management are crucial if that problem is to be addressed. Whether we agree with him or not, we all need to pray for him and for the entire church.

Patrice Lamoree
3 months 1 week ago

About that opposition to Pope Francis: some thoughts upon the death of David Koch who tapped some sentiments that run deep in American history and which the Pews have also synergized.

Those are historically deep currents that included attacking Catholics in general, so the Pews and their successors the Kochs, politically neutered Catholics, both Left and Right, and the Evangelicals that flooded into the Pew/Koch movement forced "homeless" conservative/Right-wing Catholics, with whom they already had conformity on social issues, into conforming to Evangelical leadership on economic issues, i.e. the "Prosperity Gospel, Inc." a form of blasphemy too, or suffer political irrelevance otherwise.

This situation was served quite well politically by the extreme skew that Evangelicals, in their pursuit of the Supreme Court, introduced into "Right-to-Life," which was originally a much broader Catholic Social Justice teaching than the GOP's exclusive obsession with uteri and fetuses has made it.

Personally, I think this skewed religious alliance is part of what guaranteed a second term for president 43, Bush, Jr., and the continuation of our war in Iraq. Not that unlikely a possibility, given some things it is said that Republicans did to preserve the war in Vietnam.

Mark Land
3 months 1 week ago

Agree

Vincent Gaglione
3 months 1 week ago

There is something endearing about a Pope who can give just as good as he gets! Francis’ critics are mostly happy that “fallen away” Catholics don’t cross their thresholds anymore. The pure church of their fantasies, filled with upright and dutiful congregants, mostly economically comfortable and dressed well, makes them comfortable. They are the Pharisees of our times and would well take note of the most recent Gospel to take their seats at the back of churches while Francis tries to fill the pews with the sinners whom they regard with contempt. They forget that their grandparents were regarded similarly by the evangelicals with whom they now feel so comfortable!

J Rabaza
3 months 1 week ago

Don't despair Vincent. The comments by the trolls represent a wide splattering of all types. It appears some are authored by anti-Catholics, really bad "evangelicals" who quote selectively from the Bible, and of course quite a few alleged so called Traditionalists. Those attacking Pope Francis aren't Catholic. They are ideologues who call themselves “conservative” which means whatever they want it to mean since it revolves around pride, ego, "me first". Ironically Bishop Barron delivered a wonderful sermon on "Pride & Humility" on his Word on Fire program. His words are applicable to those on the Left and Right who thunder about how they have it the right way.

For all of their bellyaching, the Trads do not want to discuss the recent history of America, an obvious decline which happened on their watch. Roe v Wade: their fault. Divorce: their fault. Fathers abandoning children: their fault. Likewise with the disintegration of the nuclear family: their fault. Ask Trads about their nuclear families, their children, their grandchildren, or better yet, their marriages. I used to attend a Tridentine Mass years ago to get to know Trads, and what always struck me after Mass as we gathered for coffee and donuts at the bottom of the church basement, was how miserable they were. Their children were not practicing Catholics, many were divorced, they did not engage society with evangelization, etc, etc, etc. Theirs was a "faith" of convenience, one for personal soothing of their egos, and a false comforting due to their self-inflicted misery. Everytime I look at the data on divorce, fatherless children, poor attendance at Mass, etc, I think of the older Catholics in our midst today. They failed as spouses, parents, grandparents, failed in practicing and living their Catholic Faith to evangelize the world, they all around are a miserable failure. How do we know? They show us today in their polemics. By their fruits you shall know them, and America is a mess today because Catholics in general, from Bishops to laity, have failed their mission.

John Barbieri
3 months 1 week ago

Not to worry.
His comments are just another manifestation of the disconnect between the clerics and the laity. The church keeps going because of cafeteria Catholicism. Only you know what you truly believe.

Robert Lewis
3 months 1 week ago

It's probably because Francis knows that the American Catholic Church is so full of right-wing zombies such as the majority of commentators on this thread that he is reluctant to appoint any more American cardinals. I hope he sticks to that resolution, and only makes appointments to the Sacred College from those parts of the world where the people are enthusiastic about his papacy (namely the Third World, where the people understand the relatively greater importance of Climate Change and social and economic justice, as compared with "gay marriage," "lgbtq rights" and "women's issues"--all of which I favor, but feel that they should take a back seat to the more important).

Darryl Cooper
3 months 1 week ago

Many Catholics I know, like myself, came BACK to the church because of Pope Francis.

Andrew Strada
3 months 1 week ago

We, especially the American gnostics and semi-Pelagians, are honored to be attacked by him.

Bill Gavin
3 months 1 week ago

One just has to shake his head at this Pope and the Vatican. They honestly don't get it. Why is he being criticized? The sins that have cried to heaven that he has ignored is truly egregious.

Bill Mazzella
3 months 1 week ago

Francis lives simply without luxury and cares about the captives whom Jesus came for. That is why Burke, Dolan etc, who love privelege, hate him.

Theresa Maccarone
3 months 1 week ago

Bill - indeed

Mark Land
3 months 1 week ago

Exactly correct. And American Bishops do NOT wanna lose those mansions and Cadillac’s for sure!

rose-ellen caminer
3 months 1 week ago

A feisty Pope; it's about time ;I love it, him![lol]

Theresa Maccarone
3 months 1 week ago

I've never been so ashamed at being an American Catholic. I love you, Pope Francis.

Christopher Scott
3 months 1 week ago

I doubt he’s going to read the book, he doesn’t strike me as a reader...lol

Mark Land
3 months 1 week ago

These comments are an amazing example of the “Christian” hate of the alt-right wing zealots in America. The Pope is right to condemn such hate and moral corruption that is evidenced by a once great nation that has lost its way and succumbed to greed and corruption. It’s no surprise that just like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time, they reject his message.

Dr.Cajetan Coelho
3 months 1 week ago

Is attack the best form of defense ?

[Explore America’s in-depth coverage of Pope Francis.]

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