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Pope Francis with Norah O'Donnell.CBS News

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis has described “conservative” bishops as having a “suicidal attitude” due to being closed “inside a dogmatic box.”

“A Conservative is one who clings to something and does not want to see beyond that,” Francis said in response to a question about “conservative bishops in the United States” the CBS “60 Minutes” interviewer described as opposing Francis’ “efforts to revisit teachings and traditions.” 

“It is a suicidal attitude because one thing is to take Tradition into account and to consider situations from the past, but quite another is to be closed up inside a dogmatic box,” continued Francis.

His comments were part of an hour-long interview with CBS’s Norah O’Donnell. Conducted in late April, a small segment of the interview was released at the time, with the full hour to be aired on CBS this Sunday and Monday. 

In a previous clip from the interview, Francis denigrated critics of climate change argument as “foolish.”

READ: Pope Francis: ‘Deniers of climate change’ are ‘foolish’ 

“There are people who are foolish, and foolish even if you show them research; they don’t believe it,” Francis declared. “Why? Because they don’t understand the situation or because of their interest, but climate change exists.”

Responding to the latest clip, a former U.S. Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, supported Francis’ statement. “For once Bergoglio is absolutely right: conservatism wants to ‘preserve’ the outward appearances of Tradition without the doctrinal substance that makes it alive,” he said. 

Conservatism is the attitude of those who criticize the excesses of the synodical church but are careful not to question its causes, which are to be found in Vatican II. Conservatism is really a “suicidal behavior” because it creates an artificial “dogmatic box,” made of Novus Ordo ad orientem with Roman chasubles and Gregorian chants and also of Vetus Ordo; made of selected quotations of some conciliar documents, accidentally not contrasting with the Catholic Magisterium of all time; made of the apotheosis of John Paul II and the regret of Benedict XVI, whom we all loved.

Continuing, Viganò differed with Francis with regard to Tradition, saying that “Tradition is not conservatism; Tradition is not a ‘dogmatic box’ because it draws from the clear and pure water of the divine source, drawing from Grace and fidelity to the Gospel and the Depositum Fidei the lifeblood that makes it capable of looking to the future without denying the past.”

Francis has long appeared to express discontent towards American Catholics, often employing his description of “rigid” when referring to them. Certain of the U.S. episcopate have been notable in defending elements of Catholic teaching, often in seeming juxtaposition to Francis’ own stance – including such men as Bishop Joseph Strickland and Cardinal Raymond Burke. 

Others among the U.S. episcopate have taken a less vocal stance than Strickland and Burke, yet nevertheless have taken positions in line with Catholic teaching that have been contradicted by Pope Francis. For example, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone banned pro-abortion Nancy Pelosi from receiving Holy Communion, but this was in practice overruled by the current pontiff. 

Indeed, Francis’ relationship with, and his argued ignorance about, the Church in the U.S. has been a regular talking point throughout his pontificate. In recent days, an editorial in the National Catholic Register urged Francis to visit the U.S. “to dispel inaccuracies about the U.S. Church that have been propagated in Rome by some papal advisers.”

“Such misunderstandings have also been fostered by the caricatures of faithful American Catholics that our own nation’s secular press routinely propagates,” the Register’s editors wrote. 

British Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh, argued in response that Francis is “astonishingly well informed about the US Church” but did not elaborate on his claim.

The Papal Nuncio to the U.S., Cardinal Christophe Pierre, is undoubtedly a publicly staunch and loyal ally of Francis – characteristics not unexpected in a papal nuncio but which are embodied in a particularly strident manner by the French cardinal.  

READ: Cardinal Hollerich again falsely claims Catholic teaching on male-only priesthood ‘can be changed’

However, even Pierre’s supporters have critiqued his efficacy in reshaping the U.S. episcopate in Francis’ image, noting that while there are some key appointments with Francis’ ideals, Pierre has not wrought as great a change as expected.

Such a change could well be implemented in the upcoming months, should he and Francis so decide, given the large proportion of sees currently, or shortly, due a new ordinary.