O’Malley tells EWTN, social media gives a distorted picture of US support for the Pope

ROME – In a new interview, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston spoke out against US criticism of Pope Francis linked to the EWTN television channel, insisting that despite this opposition, the Pope enjoys a broad support for the United States.

A key papal adviser, O’Malley spoke with veteran journalist Elisabetta Pique in an interview published in an Argentinian newspaper. the Nacion Friday.

Referring to strong criticism and even opposition from Francis coming from some camps in the United States, O’Malley said that among the laity, “There is a lot of support for the Holy Father, even among non-Americans. Catholics, who see this pontificating with enthusiasm.

When asked if the problem was with the bishops, O’Malley replied, “Not all bishops… some.

He said the American bishops’ conference is “polarized,” but it’s hard to give a percentage on the number of opponents of Francis in the conference.

“There are also bishops who are linked to a more conservative policy, and the Holy Father himself has commented on the situation of EWTN television (a large American Catholic network), where several times the commentators are very critical of the Holy Father, at least of his ideas, ”said O’Malley.

His remark referred to comments Pope Francis made in a conversation with other Jesuits during his visit to Slovakia in September, where he spoke of his criticisms and specifically highlighted “a major Catholic television station which don’t hesitate to speak ill of the Pope. ” The networks and media that attack the Pope, he said, are doing “the work of the devil.”

At the time, Francis, who was still recovering from colon surgery this summer, also said there were people who “wanted me to die” after the operation, and were already preparing for a conclave.

RELATED: Media Criticism of Pope Is Doing ‘The Devil’s Work’, Francis Says

Although he did not specifically mention EWTN, the Pope’s comments were widely seen as an attack on the network, which regularly features content and commentary critical of Pope Francis, and which has been criticized for to have engaged in a partisan political program.

EWTN President and CEO Michael Warsaw is a consultant to the Vatican Communications Department, and Archbishop Jose Gomez, President of the US Bishops’ Conferences, is a member of the EWTN Board of Directors.

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, envoy from the Vatican to the United States, told British Vatican journalist Christopher Lamb in an interview published in 2020 as part of Lamb’s book The Outsider: Pope Francis and His Battle to Reform the Church, that he had previously expressed his concern in Warsaw about EWTN’s coverage of Pope Francis.

O’Malley – who is a member of the Pope’s council of cardinals advising him on matters of governance and Church reform, is president of the Papal Foundation and president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) – a Another said The problem for the American Church is the number of “young conservative clergy” who develop distorted views of Pope Francis due to the influence of social media.

Yet despite the criticism Francis faced, O’Malley said he believed “the vast majority of Catholics are very supportive of it.”

Speaking about the Pope’s health, O’Malley described Francis, who turned 85 on December 17, “full of life and enthusiasm” and “very well after his operation” over the summer, in which about 13 inches of his lower intestine was eliminated.

O’Malley, who was in Rome recently for a December 12-14 meeting with the PCPM and a separate December 13-15 Council of Cardinals meeting, said that despite having just made a trip of 5 days in Cyprus and Greece, Pope Francis was “very strong and energetic”.

“I know there are rumors that his health is very delicate, but it is very exaggerated,” he said. “I see that the Holy Father is in good health and with great enthusiasm, a great desire to continue his ministry.”

Referring to the pope’s remarks to Slovak Jesuits about prelates hoping for a conclave, O’Malley said given Francis’ age such a speech is “inevitable”.

“There are some people who would like to see a new pontificate, although the great majority of Catholics love the Holy Father very much, and I, as a cardinal, do not want to participate in another conclave”, he said. he declares.

O’Malley expressed his belief that Francis’ work “is still unfinished, he has a mission and I hope he can continue for several more years to complete his term.”

He also spoke of the Church’s struggle against the clergy sexual abuse crisis, saying he believed “we have made giant strides since Francis arrived.”

“This does not mean that there is not a long way to go, but at least for the moment it is a subject of great importance in the Church and in all countries”, he said. he said, and stressed the importance of the Church’s commitment to “transparency and zero tolerance.”

“There is nothing more important in the Church right now,” he said, “because if we don’t solve the problem of sexual abuse and the protection of minors, how are we going to do it? evangelization? People will not trust us.

O’Malley also spoke of the Council of Cardinals, made up of prelates from different countries and continents of the world, saying he believes the advisory body has succeeded “in having direct communication with pastors from different parts of the world, without filters, in an atmosphere of great confidence.

“In this sense, we have contributed a lot to the Holy Father”, he declared, expressing his conviction that the meetings will continue and that this type of consultative process is “part of the notion of synodality of Pope Francis”.

He also spoke about the Three-Step Synod of Bishops on the ongoing Synodality and touched on the issue of corruption and Vatican finances.

Follow Elise Ann Allen on Twitter: @eliseannallen

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