Europe

Vatican laughs off news spoof amid conservative criticism

Vatican officials are brushing off a spoof Vatican newspaper poking fun at Pope Francis that points to increasing conservative criticism of his mercy-over-morals priorities.

The fake L'Osservatore Romano front page is making the rounds at the same time that hundreds of anti-pope posters appeared on Roman billboards this past weekend.

The main headline — "He responded!" — refers to Francis' refusal to respond to four cardinals who publicly asked him to clarify his position on whether divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion.

Another article refers to Francis' friendship with an Italian journalist who has taken factual liberties in reporting on their conversations.

The editor-in-chief of L'Osservatore Romano, Giovanni Maria Vian, was unperturbed.

He said Friday: "We were only sad because the layout wasn't as nice as ours."