By Ella IDE
Rome (AFP) – Italian police were on the hunt on Monday for the authors of anti-pope posters which have been slapped around Rome, amid suspicions the campaign may be linked to an arch-conservative wing of the Catholic Church.
Dozens of the illegal fliers appeared mysteriously around the Italian capital Saturday picturing a stern-looking Pope Francis, a list of accusations against him, and the words “Where’s your mercy?” — turning the pontiff’s call for a more merciful church back on him.
Police were trawling through security camera footage to track down the culprits as Rome city council said it had pulled down 200 posters while those remaining had been covered up.
No group took credit for the stunt, but Vatican watchers said the fact the main complaint referred to the “decapitation” of the Knights of Malta made it likely they came from conservative quarters.
The posters appeared on the same day that Francis appointed his own special delegate to the ancient aristocratic order, after stepping in to stop the firing of its Grand Chancellor, in a move that left traditionalists spitting.
The move publicly sidelined prominent US conservative Cardinal Raymond Burke, who has been outspoken in his disapproval of Francis’ efforts to reform Church teaching on questions related to the family, marriage and divorce.
– ‘Germs of selfishness’ –
The reference to the pope ignoring cardinals is believed to relate to four cardinals, including Burke, who sent a letter to Francis at the end of last year in which they challenged the head of the Roman Catholic Church over his teachings on the family.
Burke publicly warned Francis in November it may be necessary to make a highly rare “formal act of correction” if the Argentine did not answer the letter — a bold and almost unheard of challenge to his authority.
The mention of the removal of priests likely refers to allegations that the pope ordered the sacking of prelates from a Vatican department.
In terms of the Franciscans, the pope intervened in the religious order early on to restrict the use of Latin mass, Cruxnow.com said.