In a move that some reports have called “shocking”, Pope Benedict XVI has put the friars of the shrine of St. Francis of Assisi under the direct authority of Church officials, stripping them of the autonomy granted to them in 1969.
A report by United Press International says in the last 36 years, the friars were perceived to have made some bold and sometimes controversial moves. For example, they invited Tariq Aziz, one of Saddam Hussein's top deputies, to Assisi shortly before the invasion of Iraq.
Two peace conferences, in 1986 and 2002, reportedly upset many conservatives, including then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The first included members of many religions, including Islam, Buddhism, American Indian and African religions.
“Excesses”, including allowing African and Indian rituals reportedly marked the 1986 conference, Catholic commentator Vittorio Messori told The Independent.