Pope Francis in Naples: Pontiff has to be protected from overzealous nuns

'They are going to eat him', shouted a cardinal

Adam Withnall
Sunday 22 March 2015 18:30
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Pope Francis is greeted by nuns as he prepared to give a speech in Naples Cathedral
Pope Francis is greeted by nuns as he prepared to give a speech in Naples Cathedral

Pope Francis’s visit to Naples has not been without its controversies – and he almost managed to spark a riot in the most unlikely of places during a speech to priests, nuns and seminaries at the city’s cathedral.

A select group of cloistered nuns – who normally only greet visitors from outside their convents through a partition – were allowed to attend the Pope’s speech and even broke forward to give him a gift.

Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe was forced to intervene over the microphone and urge restraint, according to the Telegraph, saying: “Sisters… Later… Well would you look at that. They are going to eat him! Sisters… sisters!”

In his speech, the Pope touched on the challenges of living in a religious community, and described gossip in such close-knit groups as a kind of “terrorism”, and a “sign that there is no fraternity in the presbyterate”.

He said: “The person who gossips is a terrorist who drops a bomb, destroys, and they are outside – at (the) least they did a kamikaze…they destroy others.”

Prior to getting mobbed in the cathedral, Francis visited a rundown area of the city dominated by the Mafia.

He told the people of Naples to resist the domination by the Camorra mobsters and the “easy earnings or dishonest income” that they might offer.

But he also denounced legal jobs where the low pay amounted to exploitation. He said employers had the attitude of “If you don’t like it, look at the line of people who are waiting for work”, and added: “This is slavery.”

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