Pope Hits Back at Dissenting Cardinals

Francis says critics of his teachings are 'trying to foment divisions'

Pope Francis is firing back at foes of his efforts to make the Catholic Church more open and pastoral in its ministry, telling an interviewer that “they are acting with ill will to foment division.”

The pontiff’s lengthy interview in Avvenire, the official newspaper of the Italian hierarchy, was published Friday (Nov. 18) and followed days of news coverage of demands by four hardline cardinals who have grave concerns about Francis’ approach.

“I don’t lose sleep over it.”

The four say that focusing on ministering to people in their particular circumstances is eroding the church’s doctrinal absolutes and that Francis must dispel any ambiguities or face serious consequences.

The four critics, led by U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, a Rome-based prelate and longtime opponent of the pontiff’s policies, had written privately to Francis in September.

They asked the pontiff to state whether passages in a landmark document on ministering to families that he had issued in March could be interpreted to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion in some cases.

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Related: Pope Francis Breaks Silence on Trump Triumph

On Monday (Nov. 14), the cardinals went public with the letter because they learned that Francis was not going to respond to their demands that he answer five specific questions about the document, an exhortation called “Amoris Laetitia,” or “The Joy of Love.”

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