Featured Image
Pope Francis and author Andrea Tornielli

October 21, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — On October 16, Italian Vatican analyst Andrea Tornielli published an article headlined “Those Catholics against Francis that adore Putin” in the Turin newspaper La Stampa, presenting a “hit list” of conservatives considered to be opposed to Pope Francis.

In the article, Tornielli, along with another Vaticanista, Giacomo Galeazzi, calls out alleged “enemies” of Francis. The groups, seemingly assembled arbitrarily, appear to have two things in common: They are not progressive and they have chosen to criticize the Pope publicly.

As the author of a book based on an interview with Pope Francis, The Name of God is Mercy, Tornielli is well known in Italy and abroad. He also runs the English language site Vatican Insider, and in January will release another book based on an interview with Francis. Many consider him the “official Vaticanist” of Pope Francis.

In his article, Tornielli states that “the galaxies of dissidents against Bergoglio reaches from the Lefebvrians – who have decided to anticipate ‘a more traditional Pope’ before they return to unity with Rome – to the ‘Lega-Catholics’ who see in Francis a contradiction to his predecessor Ratzinger and started a campaign called ‘My Pope is Benedict.’”

Tornielli lists the “ultra-conservative” Lepanto Foundation run by Italian historian, Roberto De Mattei. De Mattei, a traditionalist deeply loyal to Rome, has called out the “confusion” in the Church subsequent to the publication of Amoris Laetitia and has expressed his wish for the Pope to clarify.

Italian website “La Bussola quotidiana” (“The Daily Compass”) and the publication “Il Timone” are listed. Also included is the site of the Italian Vaticanist, Sandro Magister, published as “Il Settimo Cielo.”

In addition, the blogosphere is presented as an imminent threat to the Pope. “Chiesa e Postoconcilio” is among the suspects as well as “MessainLatino,” “Radio Spada,” “Unavox,” “Lo Straniero,” “Roscossa Cristiana,” and “Corrispondenza Romana.” All are important for Italian language Catholicism along with “Rossoporpora” and “Libertà e persona.”

Tornielli goes on to point a finger at two initiatives. First, the forty-five signatories who requested clarification from the Pope on some theological issues. This group has already felt some heat before their inclusion in Tornielli’s galactic hodgepodge – something that will certainly recur with the other names associated.

And second, the 80 prelates and lay people who signed a “Filial Appeal” pledging their fidelity to the unchanging teaching of the Church on family. The Filial Appeal Association already collected 900,000 signatures (among them 211 prelates) during the two Synods of Bishops in 2015 asking Francis clarification on the subject.

The “universe of dissent” against the pope (displayed in a portrait with planets representing each group or website) is topped by the Priestly Fraternity of Pius X, which is present in 35 countries but lacks regular status in the Church.

Also considered problematic is the journalist Antonio Socci, who has raised concerns about the Francis' election.

In Socci’s 2014 book, It is Not Francis – The Church in a Great Tempest, he explains that the election of Francis was rigged and he believes that this is supported by the remarks of Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who said the Papacy has two elements: an active member (Francis) and a contemplative member (Benedict XVI).

Recent news reports have surfaced that Bishop Bernard Fellay of SSPX met Pope Francis at Santa Marta on October 13 for further doctrinal discussions. These ongoing meetings along with the decree of Francis himself that the SSPX priest could validly absolve in confession for the duration of the Holy Year of Mercy give a very different impression from the perception that SSPX is leading a worldwide revolt against the Pontiff.

To give the article more oomph, it is headlined “Putin-lovers.” This implies a general political line, perhaps even financial backing, that those groups hold in common. These kinds of allegations become borderline silly when one thinks about how the various origins of the groups in question are quite contrary to these accusations. What it does invoke is an antiquated understanding of the “cold war” with Russia standing against the civilized world.

At least Tornielli acknowledges that “the dissidence against the Pope unifies people and groups that are very different and not comparable.”

The question remains then: What was the intention in publishing an article presenting the jumble of groups if not to discredit them? Yet, at the same time, they miss the point. It should be safe to say that an article of this kind seems unworthy of a senior Vaticanist such as Tornielli.