Pope says he’s praying for his critics

What happened?

The Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica has published some remarks made by Pope Francis as the fifth anniversary of his pontificate approaches. Speaking to Jesuits on a recent trip to Chile and Peru, said that when he realised during the conclave that he might become pope, he “felt great peace. And up to today that peace has never left me.” Asked about criticism, he replied: “When I cannot see spiritual goodness in what these people say or write, I simply pray for them.”

What the British media are saying

Since his election, Francis has been “hugely popular”, said Catherine Pepinster in the Guardian. “Yet in the Vatican itself, all is not well.” Doctrinal debates have worried some; others are “deeply upset by recent remarks he has made on child abuse”. Last month in Chile, he “defended Juan Barros, a man he named as a bishop in 2015”, and said those who “accused him of covering up for a paedophile priest were guilty of slander.”

Writing for Time, Christopher Hale said he had been “one of the Pope’s biggest cheerleaders in American and global media the past five years, but I can say with conviction that if Francis doesn’t transform his focus and practice on ending the systematic cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, his papacy will be a tragic failure.”

What the vaticanisti are saying

The “honeymoon” is over, wrote Philip Lawler at firstthings.com. “Pope Francis has consistently said all the right things about the abuse question, promising to maintain a “zero-tolerance” policy and to hold bishops accountable for their handling of abuse complaints. But in practice the Pontiff has tolerated and even promoted prelates with seriously flawed records on the issue.”

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection