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Pope Francis welcomes criticism—he says

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Feb 10, 2017

“It’s good to be criticized,” said Pope Francis to religious superiors. “I have always liked this.”

That’s good to know. What a relief to think that all those stories we’ve been hearing—about the Vatican officials called in for tongue-lashing because they had expressed criticism of the Holy Father, the staff members of the CDF summarily dismissed for the same reason—must be wrong. And the angry speeches to the Roman Curia must have been misreported and/or misinterpreted.

But that’s not all. Pope Francis went on to tell the religious superiors: “And when criticisms make you grow, I accept them, and reply.”

So if, say, four cardinals criticize a papal document for ambiguity, and ask for a clarification, we can safely assume that he would reply.

Or maybe there are some criticisms that don’t “make you grow.” I wonder how one can tell the difference.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: feedback - Feb. 12, 2017 8:46 AM ET USA

    I remember the criticism (from the so-called "Left") of St. John Paul II used to be extremely disrespectful to him, and in his long pontificate he never reacted with anger, or threats, or name-calling, in response to his critics.

  • Posted by: rickt26170 - Feb. 11, 2017 12:17 AM ET USA

    I admit to having doubts about Francis for some time. But lately, when thinking about his past actions, I have to admit the strong possibility that Francis is very prone to duplicity. I think we should all begin thinking about what Francis has planned for the Youth Synod in 2018 - I doubt it will be unemployment.

  • Posted by: JonathanC - Feb. 10, 2017 11:31 PM ET USA

    Indeed, brother Phil! Indeed, indeed... Ones does wonder just how this Pope discerns the difference. Hmmm...

  • Posted by: KC627 - Feb. 10, 2017 4:50 PM ET USA

    Mr. Lawler, you took the words right out of my mouth. Also, perhaps an explanation on why the Pope has not yet answered the Dubia (Criticism) from the 4 Cardinals is that he placed it under his statue of St Joseph in his room with all the other notes he writes to St Joseph and forgot about it. But, he is "at peace" with that. At least according to Anthony Spadaro who quoted the Pope at the top of the article cited above referring to corruption in the Vatican.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Feb. 10, 2017 1:38 PM ET USA

    I read the cited article about the Pope's meeting with the Superiors General. After reading his remarks and comparing them to remarks he has made at past meetings and interviews, I must say that he and I share a worldview separated by a chasm almost as great as that which cut Dives off from Lazarus. He refers to matters that are black and white as gray, abstractions. "Black and white" is rigid, and thus evil. Discernment trumps clarity. "Investing in weapons" is evil, always and everywhere. Etc.