VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - A new report claims Pope Francis is preparing a "campaign of denigration" against five bishops who have publicly rejected his stance on marriage and the sacraments.
On New Year's Eve, Bp. Athanasius Schneider, along with two fellow bishops from Kazakhstan, published a document rejecting liberal interpretations of Amoris Laetitia, which have "caused significant and ever greater confusion among both the faithful and the clergy, confusion that touches the heart of the life of the Church ... ."
The following day, two prelates added their signatures: Cdl. Carlo Maria Vigano, former papal nuncio to the United States, and Abp. Luigi Negri of Ferrara-Comacchio.
Wednesday, Vaticanista Marco Tosatti — a reliable expert on inside matters in Rome — noted that a popular Italian blog was reporting that Pope Francis is preparing a counterattack.
Anonimi Della Croce ("Anonymous of the Cross"), in a post titled "The Quiet Before the Storm," wrote Wednesday:
My source in the Vatican told me that last night [Pope Francis] stayed in Santa Marta with several Vatican "press officers" and various "advisers" for a meeting on how to deal with this new and "unexpected" Correction from the Bishops of Astana. The source told me that [the pope] was furious. He went on a rampage — because he cannot stand any opposition. They heard him scream: "They will regret it! They will regret it bitterly!"
The report went on to summarize it as a "campaign of denigration" against the bishops, conducted through various media friendly to the Holy Father. The pope "has given carte blanche to his official and unofficial 'press officers' to start a 'media campaign' that denigrates opponents," which will serve to "discredit" the bishops, causing them to "lose their credibility."
He noted that Vatican communications is "now in the hands of the Jesuits."
"A regime reigns in the Vatican," Anonymous wrote. "Mail, cell phones under control, surrounding bugs ... in the Vatican are the order of the day."
The Vatican was rocked in December by the book Dictator Pope, which claimed Pope Francis is prone to vindictiveness, and the Vatican under his pontificate is bugged and wiretapped, including the apartments of curial officials.
"Clergy and laity working there find that their offices, cars and even private homes are bugged and their telephones tapped," the author told Church Militant. "Everyone you talk to in the Vatican, of all parties or none, will tell you that the atmosphere there is one of profound fear, a state of affairs completely unlike anything known in living memory."
Tosatti noted that "coincidentally" on Tuesday, liberal Catholic Massimo Faggiolo — who wrote a scathing piece against what he pejoratively calls "Catholic Cyber-Militias" — tweeted a negative comment about the bishops behind the recent document.
"This confirms the low level of the signatories," Faggioli commented. "I know one of them well."
He went on to mock the bishops in two more tweets. "Alternative headline," he wrote."'Emerging from their disgruntled retirement, a couple of bishops try to convey the false idea that the Church is split in two.'"
Later, he added, "I am from the archdiocese of Ferrara and I spend there part of my life as a Catholic. If you know the retired archbishop Negri, you cannot possibly think that he is the voice of the 'sanior pars' [sounder part] in the Church."
Responses were uniformly negative, scolding Faggioli.
"It must be awful to spend your entire life desperately fighting against God and hoping everything will stick somewhere," said Frank Walker.
"You are sinking to new lows," tweeted zdogg8. "Lovely that you have Twitter, fitting for a twit. Now the world will all know."
"In my diocese even though it's still a bit on the liberal side, all the young newly ordained men in recent years are traditional(ist)," wrote Bearspear. "If this is a War, Faggioli's side is losing 'soldiers' fast."