'Some wanted me dead:' Pope acknowledges right-wing critics

Pope Francis has acknowledged his increasingly vocal right-wing critics

Vatican Conservatives
Vatican Conservatives

Pope Francis has acknowledged his increasingly vocal conservative critics, saying their “nasty comments” were the work of the devil and adding that “some wanted me dead” after his recent intestinal surgery.

Francis made the comments during a Sept. 13 private meeting with Slovakian Jesuits soon after he arrived in the Slovak capital of Bratislava during his just-finished visit. A transcript of the encounter was published Tuesday by the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica, which often provides after-the-fact accounts of Francis’ closed-door meetings with his fellow Jesuits when he's on the road.

Francis showed his dark sense of humor throughout the encounter, particularly when a priest asked him how he was feeling. The Sept. 12-15 Hungary-Slovakia trip was Francis’ first international outing since undergoing surgery in July to remove a 33-centimeter (13-inch) chunk of his large intestine.

“Still alive,” Francis quipped. “Even though some wanted me dead. I know there were even meetings among priests who thought the pope was in worse shape than what was being said. They were preparing the conclave.”

“Patience! Thank God I’m well,” he added.

The comment was a reflection of the intense interest in the pope’s health, and the speculation about what would happen if he were to fail, that always accompanies a pontiff but is perhaps more acute with a pope who has attracted vocal opposition from part of the church. After his 10-day hospital stay, Italian media began speculating that Francis might resign and pointed out the need for norms to regulate a second retired pope.

Francis has previously said resigning “didn't even cross my mind."

Francis was also asked about how he deals with divisions and with people who view him with suspicion. It was a reference to Catholic conservatives who have long criticized Francis’ critiques of capitalism and his focus on the environment and migrants.

Their criticism turned to outrage after Francis in July cracked down on the celebration of the old Latin Mass. Francis reversed Emeritus Benedict XVI and re-imposed restrictions on celebrating the old rite, saying the move was necessary because the Latin Mass had become a source of division in the church and been exploited on ideological grounds.

In his response, Francis referred to the Latin Mass outcry and noted that there was a “big Catholic television station that continually speaks poorly about the pope.” He didn’t name it but it could have been a reference to the EWTN media conglomerate, which has been critical of the papacy and in particular Francis' new restrictions on the old Latin Mass.

“I personally might merit attacks and insults because I’m a sinner, but the church doesn’t deserve this; it’s the work of the devil,” he said. “Yes there are priests even who make nasty comments about me. Sometimes I lose my patience, especially when they make judgments without entering into a real dialogue. You can’t do anything with that."

But Francis said his reaction is to just preach. “ I just go forward without entering into their world of ideas and fantasies,” he said.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in