VATICAN CITY, November 19, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - This week has brought new hope to traditional and conservative Catholics concerning Pope Francis. After months of a near-constant liberal media onslaught claiming Pope Francis as the pope of the left, and the exuberance of Nancy Pelosi and similar liberals, Pope Francis has signaled a very different trajectory.
Two personal communications from Pope Francis thanking Catholics on the right who have been critical of some of his recent moves, along with other indications have marked this week, in the words of one traditional Catholic, as “one that will be looked back on as a turning point in this pontificate.”
Mario Palmaro, an Italian traditional Catholic writer who, along with Alessandro Gnocchi, was fired from Radio Maria Italy for being openly critical of the Pope’s controversial off-the-cuff interviews, received a phone call from Pope Francis on November 1. The article which led to their firing criticized the pope for, in the opinion of the authors, attempting to capture the praise of the world rather than remaining faithful to the truth. It was provocatively headlined “We do not like this Pope.”
After expressing his distress that news about the phone call from the pope had been made public, Palmaro spoke with Italian media noting that the pope said he had read his criticisms and understood that they were done for the love of the Church and the papacy. The pope, he said, also told him it was important for him to receive the criticisms.
According to Palmaro, the phone call began with the pope expressing his closeness and concern for Palmaro who is dying of cancer.
"Pope Francis told me that he was very close to me, having learned of my health condition, of my grave illness, and I clearly noticed his deep empathy, the attention for a person as such, beyond ideas and opinions, while I live through a time of trial and suffering," related Palmaro. (translation by Rorate Caeli)
"I was astonished, amazed, above all moved: for me, as a Catholic, that which I was experiencing was one of the most beautiful experiences in my life. But I felt the duty to remind the Pope that I, together with Gnocchi, had expressed specific criticisms regarding his work, while I renewed my total fidelity [to him] as a son of the Church,” he added. “The Pope almost did not let me finish the sentence, saying that he had understood that those criticisms had been made with love, and how important it had been for him to receive them."
"[These words] comforted me greatly," he said.
Michael Matt, editor of The Remnant newspaper, one of the most prominent traditional Catholic institutions in the United States, told LifeSiteNews that he was also comforted by news of the pope’s phone call, and other recent papal actions which came to light this week.
The Palmaro incident he said, “speaks to the need for us to make our voices heard,” adding that it shows that “attempts by some Catholics trying to silence trads was really wrong headed.”
In addition to the Palmaro phone call, several other incidents weighed in to Matt’s assessment.
One was the pope’s reported assurance that the Latin Mass, which has become a rallying point for many Catholics who also adhere to the Church's traditional teachings on life and family, is under no threat. A November 11 Catholic World News report related that Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos told members of Una Voce International (FIUV) “I met Pope Francis very recently and he told me that he has no problem with the old rite, and neither does he have any problem with lay groups and associations like yours that promote it.”
A second was the Vatican’s pulling of the controversial papal interview with atheist Eugenio Scalfari from the Vatican website. That interview had been criticized by some for appearing to distort the teaching of the Church on what it means to follow one’s conscience in determining good and evil.
The third was the Pope’s promotion of the daily prayer of the Divine Mercy prayer with the distribution of 20,000 rosaries on Sunday.
And the fourth was an incident very similar to the Palmaro phone call. This time, it was an October 7 letter from Pope Francis to a conservative archbishop which was made public November 12.
In the letter, Pope Francis thanked Archbishop Agostino Marchetto for correcting him on some undisclosed matter. The context of the letter is Archbishop Marchetto’s critique of the “Bologna School” of theology - an approach that sees the Second Vatican Council as a point of departure from the former ways of the Church, including on key moral issues. Marchetto argues for the approach of Pope Benedict XVI, seeing the Council as a continuation of the Church’s teaching.
Many of the followers of the Bologna school initially took Pope Francis as one of their own, and as they were, opposed to Pope Benedict XVI.
However, Pope Francis’ letter dashed those hopes by clearly stating that that the Pope considers Marchetto to be “the best interpreter of Vatican Council II.” (see full translation of the letter by Zenit here)
One of Italy’s most prominent traditional Catholics, Professor Roberto de Mattei, who is intimately involved in the debate between the different approaches to the interpretation of the second Vatican Council, was encouraged by the Pope’s letter to Archbishop Marchetto. “In the letter the Pope has noted his opposition to the Bologna school, to the hermeneutic of rupture,” Professor de Mattei told LifeSiteNews.com. “Thus, the Holy Father has indicated his disagreement with the approach that favours a break with the Church’s teachings and practices of the past. The Bologna school, to which the Pope has noted his disagreement, proposes alteration of the Church’s structure and organization, but also to her teachings around sexuality, contraception, women priests.”