Earlier this week, Pope Francis spoke publicly about his critics stabbing him in the back while saying that he is not afraid if the Catholic Church splits.
So what happened?
Pope Francis was on a flight home to the Vatican after a trip to several African countries when he spoke with reporters on the plane. One of the reporters asked him about attacks from conservative Catholic leaders and Catholic media, like websites and television.
The question is in regard to the complaints many conservative Catholic leaders have had regarding Pope Francis's more moderate stances on some traditional Catholic teaching. For example, they object to the pope's environmentalism, his support of immigration, and, especially, his decision to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to take Communion.
Totally worth losing your head over.
In response to the reporter's question, Francis said that his stances on social issues are the same as Pope John Paul, and that he just "copies" Paul's view. Uhhh, OK...
Pope Francis went on to remark that he appreciates "constructive criticism," but not "those who smile while stabbing you in the back." He also pointed out that the criticisms are not just from Catholic leaders in the U.S. but that they also come from everywhere within the church.
Speaking about the possibility that these disagreements could split the church (again), Francis said, "I'm not afraid of schism. I pray that there won't be one, because the spiritual health of many people depends on it."
I would actually kind of like to see the church splinter off. From early heresies like Marcionism and Arianism, to the Great Schism, and the Reformation, the church has always been fragmenting into different denominations. As religion continues to fade from prominence, it would be nice to see these churches continue to argue with one another and split into smaller and smaller communities. If they keep it up, they will eventually fade away entirely.