Pope Francis says his conservative critics in the church have a ‘suicidal attitude’

Pope Francis has suggested that his conservative critics in the United States have a “suicidal attitude,” in an interview with CBS News.

Asked about criticism from “conservative bishops” in the US who have opposed Francis’ more progressive papacy and efforts to reform the Catholic Church, the Pope paused on the word “conservative,” saying a conservative is “one who clings to something and does not want to see beyond that. It is a suicidal attitude.”

There is an important difference between taking “tradition into account” and being “closed up inside a dogmatic box,” Francis emphasized.

Francis has envisioned a merciful Catholic Church open to everyone, a “field hospital” ready to bind up the wounds of a suffering humanity. But during his pontificate, the Argentinian Pope has faced attacks from some inside the church who see him as breaking with tradition and have resisted his call for reform, including an embrace of LGBTQ+ Catholics. Internal backlash has also emerged to his outspokenness on the plight of migrants and need to address climate change.

Some of the strongest pushback to Francis’ progressive approach has come from groups in the United States. Those who oppose Francis say they want a pope instead who lays down the law and presents doctrine in black-and-white terms.

The pope has not been afraid to call out his critics, describing some of his opponents in the US as “backwardists,” saying they have replaced faith with ideology. In recent months, Francis has taken even more assertive measures to deal with the opposition, including sanctioning one of his most outspoken critics, US Cardinal Raymond Burke. He also removed a bishop in Tyler, Texas who had accused the pope of undermining the church’s central teachings.

His remarks to CBS come at a time when a spotlight has been thrown on an extreme socially conservative trend in the US Catholic church, highlighted by Kansas City Chiefs Kicker Harrison Butker’s recent commencement address at a Catholic school. Butker described Pride Month as “evil” and suggested women would find the most fulfillment as homemakers.

CBS’s full interview with the pope is due to air on 60 Minutes this Sunday.

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