Cardinal Marx says loyalty to the pope is important for Catholicism

Vatican City — A member of Pope Francis’ advisory Council of Cardinals has said it is important for the Catholic faith that adherents to the religion support the pontiff.

In a press briefing at the Vatican Wednesday, German Cardinal Reinhard Marx said that while it is normal that there be discussion about the pope and his initiatives “it is also clear for us as Catholics that loyalty to the pope is substantial for the Catholic faith.”

Marx, the archbishop of Munich and Freising, was responding to a question about why the Council of Cardinals had decided to issue a statement Monday reiterating its support for Francis.

“In relation to recent events, the Council of Cardinals pledges its full support for the pope’s work,” said that statement, without specifying the recent events in question.

The cardinal declined to offer additional information on the statement during the briefing, but said the Council “had the feeling we didn’t want to make great drama but … it was the time to repeat from our group we are supporting the pope.”

Francis has come under unusual criticism in Rome in recent weeks, with posters opposing him being posted on city streets Feb. 4 and a fake electronic edition of the Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano newspaper also being distributed to Vatican officials and journalists.

Marx was speaking at a briefing Wednesday about an upcoming meeting of the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice foundation, a lay-led Vatican non-profit organization that promotes Catholic social teachings.

The Council of Cardinals has been in Rome Monday-Wednesday for its 18th in-person meeting.

In a separate briefing Wednesday, the Vatican said the group in this meeting had particularly discussed the work of three curial offices: the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Congregation for the Oriental churches, and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Paloma García Ovejero, the vice director of the Holy See Press Office, said the group had also discussed the process for the selection of priests who are appointed to serve as bishops around the world.

The Council of Cardinals’ next meeting is set for April 24-26.

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

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