(CNSNews.com) -- In response to Pope Francis's criticism of "rigid priests" -- priests who steadfastly uphold all of the Church's teachings, especially on sexual morality and the family -- Monsignor Charles Pope, the pastor of a church in Washington, D.C., said he was not "feeling the love" from the Pope and is "wearied from being scorned and demonized by you."
Pope Francis has criticized what he calls "rigid priests," or clerics who are "rigid" in their ministry, fairly frequently since he was elected Pope in March 2013. In an October 2016 homily, Pope Francis said that rigid people are "sick" and adhere too strongly to the letter of the law. He often associates rigidity with orthodox Catholics who adhere to the traditions of the Church, its ancient devotions and prayers, the Latin Mass, and a strong love for the Virgin Mary.
On Sept. 7, while speaking with the bishops of Mozambique about priestly formation, Pope Francis said, “I would like to emphasize an attitude that I do not like, because it does not come from God: rigidity. Today it is fashionable, I do not know about here, but in other parts of the world it is fashionable, to find rigid people."
"Young, rigid priests, who want to save with rigidity, perhaps, I don’t know, but they take this attitude of rigidity and sometimes – excuse me – from the museum," said the Pope. "They are afraid of everything, they are rigid. Be careful, and know that under any rigidity there are serious problems.”
In response to those remarks, Msgr. Charles Pope wrote on Facebook, "Santo Padre, I'm not feeling the love here, I don't feel accompanied by you. Make room in your heart for me and others like me. I am not a young priest, but I know you don't like my type of priesthood. Further I am an American and this mere fact seems to also make me troublesome in your eyes."
"I am not afraid of everything a you state, but I do have concerns for the ambiguity of some of your teachings and severity of some of your actions," said Msgr. Pope. "Yet when we, your less favored sons, ask you questions you will not answer or clarify. In all this I am still your son and share the priesthood of Jesus with you. I await the solicitude and gentle care from you that you say I, and others like me, lack."
He continued, "Meanwhile I must honestly and painfully say that I am wearied from being scorned and demonized by you. Respectfully, Carlo."
Monsignor Pope's sentiment is not uncommon.
In reference to his post, Fr. Raymond Blake, a Catholic priest in England, tweeted, "I don't see this continuous criticism from our beloved Holy Father as Christlike, I find it painful and destrucitve of faith and unity, and contrary to the action of the Holy Spirit's action in the Church."
Eric Sammons, who describes himself as a "traditional Catholic" living in Ohio, tweeted, "Pray for good priests like Msgr. Pope who are suffering greatly under this pope."
Cardinal Raymond Burke, Cardinal Walter Brandmuller, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, and Cardinal Carlo Caffarra sent a letter to Pope Francis in 2016 with questions ("dubia") about certain teachings in his document Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love). One of the questions specifically asked the Pope to explain whether divorced and remarried Catholics (living in adultery) could receive Communion.
To this day, three years later, Pope Francis has not replied. (Cardinals Meisner and Caffarra have died in the interim.) Pope Francis also has not responded to similar questions from numerous theologians and Catholic scholars who have sent letters to the Vatican imploring the Holy Father to clarify his position.
On a related note, Pope Francis has stated he "will not say a single word" in reference to Archbishop Carlo Vigano's "Testimony," which exposed numerous alleged instances of corruption in the Vatican, the Pope's apparent deceitfulness in the sexual abuse case involving Arbp. Theodore McCarrick, and which called on the Pope to resign.