Report: Francis calls ailing traditionalist writer; says criticism is important to him

There have been reports in the Italian press that earlier this month Pope Francis personally telephoned an Italian traditionalist writer known for his harsh criticisms of the Pontiff, expressing sympathy and offering prayers for the writer’s recovery from a serious illness.

Rorate Caeli has the details:

Mario Palmaro, the Italian traditional Catholic writer and journalist who has authored many books and articles together with his friend Alessandro Gnocchi (many of which have been posted in translation here on Rorate) told Italian daily Libero about the fact. In September and October, after a very critical article published in Il Foglio, Palmaro and Gnocchi were summarily fired by Catholic broadcaster Radio Maria after several years of work in the station. …

“Pope Francis told me that he was very close to me, having learned of my health condition, of my grave illness, and I clearly noticed his deep empathy, the attention for a person as such, beyond ideas and opinions, while I live through a time of trial and suffering.”

“I was astonished, amazed, above all moved: for me, as a Catholic, that which I was experiencing was one of the most beautiful experiences in my life. But I felt the duty to remind the Pope that I, together with Gnocchi, had expressed specific criticisms regarding his work, while I renewed my total fidelity [to him] as a son of the Church. The Pope almost did not let me finish the sentence, saying that he had understood that those criticisms had been made with love, and how important it had been for him to receive them.” [These words] “comforted me greatly.”

Read more here.

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Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.