ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) – Pope Francis acknowledged on Thursday that his recent remarks calling out the U.S. Catholic Church as “reactionary” have ruffled feathers, and added that he wanted to “move on” from the controversy.
“They got angry, but let’s move on, move on,” Francis told a journalist on the plane taking him to Mongolia.
In the 10 years since his election, the pope has been criticised by conservative sectors of the U.S. Church who are opposed to reforms such as giving women and lay Catholics more roles and making the Church more welcoming and less judgmental towards some, including LGBT people.
On Monday, the Jesuit magazine Civilta Cattolica published comments Francis made while meeting Jesuit priests in Lisbon for World Youth Day in early August.
In a question-and-answer session, a Portuguese Jesuit told Francis that during a sabbatical in the United States, he was saddened to see that many local Catholics, including some bishops, were hostile to the pope’s leadership.
“You have seen that in the United States the situation is not easy: there is a very strong reactionary attitude. It is organised and shapes the way people belong, even emotionally,” the pope responded.
Religious conservatives in the United States often have aligned with politically conservative media outlets to criticise the pope over a host of issues such as climate change, immigration, social justice, his calls for gun control and his opposition to the death penalty.
(Reporting by Phil Pullella, writing by Alvise Armellini, editing by Nick Macfie)