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Pope Francis with close friend and adviser Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ
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*Updated: Famed papal ‘mouthpiece’ tweets about ‘witless worm’ while criticizing 4 Cardinals

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*Update Dec. 29, 2016: Fr. Antonio Spadaro claimed in a Nov. 27 tweet that he was “considering” a tweet that referred to himself and the Pope as Wormtongue and Saruman when he tweeted the “witless worm” screenshot. 

ROME, November 18, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- A Jesuit priest often described as Pope Francis' "mouthpiece" has deleted a tweet in which he appeared to compare cardinals of the Church to the character Wormtongue from the Lord of the Rings.

Fr. Antonio Spadaro's tweet came amidst a stream of posts criticizing four cardinals for raising concerns about the Pope’s confusion-plagued exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

Spadaro began criticizing those who “don't like what they hear” in a series of more than a dozen tweets beginning Monday Nov. 14, the same day the cardinals’ went public with their letter asking Francis to answer five "yes or no" questions (Dubia) to clarify what they called “uncertainty, confusion, and disorientation” in the Exhortation.

The following day, Spadaro ramped up his criticism, calling the Pope’s exhortation an “act of the Magisterium,” a point largely contested by Cardinal Burke, one of the signers of the “Dubia.” Spadaro stated that those who find the exhortation problematic should stop asking the “same question until you get the answer *you* want.”

Only hours later that same day Spadaro tweeted a screenshot from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy where the hero Gandalf confronts the traitor Wormtongue for poisoning the King’s ear to accept the reign of evil. In the screenshot, Spadaro included the subtitle of Gandalf stating, in reference to the traitor, that he refuses “to bandy crooked words with a witless worm.”

IMPORTANT: To respectfully express your support for the cardinals' letter, sign the petition to Pope Francis. Click here.

Twitter users apparently had no trouble understanding the meaning behind the post, with some even wondering if Spadaro’s account had been hacked. 

It was shortly after this that Spadaro deleted the tweet, but not before it was retweeted and later captured and preserved by others.

Catholic bloggers, faithful to the teaching of the Catholic Church, did not fail to see the irony in Spadaro’s tweet. 

“Yes, one of the Pope's closest allies wants you to think that those who supported the ‘Dubia’ are akin to the traitorous spies of Saruman. And Pope Francis is Gandalf… Maybe Spadaro took down his tweet because the irony was too rich even for him,” wrote one blogger. 

The exhortation continues to be a hotbed of controversy since its publication in April. It has been criticized for its ambiguity on the issues of the indissolubility of marriage and whether couples in adulterous relationships can receive Holy Communion.

Sources in Rome close to the Pope say he is “not happy at all” and is "boiling with rage" over the Cardinals raising their concerns about his exhortation. 

Spadaro tweeted today that he “laughs” at such a suggestion. He wrote off the Cardinals’ Dubia as a matter of “ecclesiastical quarrels.”

Earlier this week Francis took the unprecedented step of canceling a scheduled meeting with the world's cardinals that was to take place during this weekend's consistory, in which they were to discuss important issues facing the Church. 

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