MEXICO CITY (AP) – Mexico's main archdiocese has taken the unusual step of publicly saying Pope Francis had been badly advised when he directed harsh words to local bishops during his visit in mid-February.
The pope told a gathering of local bishops in February not to be career-minded clerics, saying, "We do not need 'princes,' but rather a community of the Lord's witnesses."
The pope also urged them to maintain unity and show more transparency. "If you have to fight, fight. If you have to say things, say them, but do it like men: to the face," Francis told the bishops.
An editorial published Sunday on a website of the archdiocese of Mexico City also said that some of the pope's comments had been misinterpreted by "reporters more focused on histrionics than the deep meaning of the words."
"The Mexican bishops have been accompanying the suffering, downtrodden people, devoting their lives to others and not living like 'princes,'" the editorial said.
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It denies local bishops are out of touch with the people, and says the pope's comments "might be due to someone near him who gave him bad advice."
The editorial ends with the question: "Who gave the pope bad advice?"
The rector of the Pontifical University of Mexico, Mario Angel Flores, said the editorial appeared ill-advised, given that the pope's comments "were very frank words, inviting everyone to be more clear."
"They are trying to downplay and question his words, which is not the most correct thing to do," Flores said.
Apart from his speech to the bishops, even Francis' prayers to the Virgin of Guadalupe reflected his concern that the Mexican church needs to get its priorities straight.
During his half-hour of silent prayer, Francis later told reporters, "I prayed for the Mexican people, and one thing I prayed for a lot was that priests be true priests, and sisters be true sisters and bishops be true bishops as the Lord wants."