Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Group of priests caught joking about the Pope dying on their YouTube channel

The pope, who is 87, has had checks in hospital in recent weeks

Ap Correspondent
Thursday 29 February 2024 15:08 GMT
Pope Francis taken to hospital with flu
Leer en Español

A bishop has rebuked comments made by priests on their YouTube channel about praying for Pope Francis to die as soon as possible.

Archbishop Francisco Cerro Chaves of Toledo posted a statement on the archdiocese website saying it rejected the comments and warned that it may take “corrective measures,” without elaborating.

The statement followed an episode of a program on YouTube called “The Sacristy of the Vendée. A counter-revolutionary priestly gathering” earlier this month. In it, a Toledo priest makes an introductory salute saying, “I also pray a lot for the Pope, so that he can go to heaven as soon as possible.”

Another priest expresses his support for this while the conversation group, which involved six Spanish-speaking priests from different countries, laughed over the comments.

The group then went on to discuss different religious, social and political issues, mostly from a conservative point of view.

In his statement, Chavez says he expresses his “profound rejection of any manifestation of disaffection towards the person and ministry of the Holy Father,” adding that it has told the priests they should seek forgiveness.

Pope Francis hugs a baby at the end of his weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall, at the Vatican on Wednesday (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The statement says the archbishopric is not responsible for or represented by the statements made by the priests in the internet program.

In messages posted on its X platform account, The Sacristy of the Vendée group apologized. “We are sorry for the unfortunate comment, said in a humorous tone, about ‘praying for the Pope to go to Heaven as soon as possible,’” it said.

"It is a comment in bad taste and, although it does not express wishes for the death of the Pope, as some media have maliciously spread, ... we understand that it can be understood that way," the group said.

Pope Francis, who has been suffering from influenza, made a brief trip to a Roman hospital for medical checks on Wednesday but was able to return to the Vatican, his office said in a statement.

The pope, who is 87, had checks at the Tiber Island hospital after his weekly general audience, the statement said, without providing further details.

Francis underwent the same procedure at the same hospital in November, following another bout of influenza. The scan allows doctors to see detailed internal images of a patient’s body.

Televised images on Wednesday showed a Vatican-registered white Fiat - a model Francis uses regularly - leaving the medical facility in the centre of Rome at around midday (1100 GMT).

Pope Francis delivers his speech during his weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The pontiff earlier skipped a reading at his Wednesday weekly audience, delegating the task to an aide and telling the faithful he was still not well.

“Dear brothers and sisters, I still have a bit of a cold,” Francis said at the audience on Wednesday, announcing that someone else would read his catechesis on envy and vainglory, two of the seven deadly sins.

The pope spoke at the end of his audience, sounding hoarse and coughing a bit, to greet some of the faithful and issue calls for peace, as is customary.

Francis, who has had a number of health issues recently, had cancelled appointments on Saturday and on Monday due to what the Vatican called a mild flu. On Sunday, he addressed crowds in St Peter’s Square as normal, to deliver his Angelus message.

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