Pope Francis says conservative critics have a ‘suicidal attitude’

Pope Francis Norah O'Donnell In an interview with 60 Minutes' Norah O'Donnell, airing this Sunday, Pope Francis took aim at his “conservative critics” in the United States. | Credit: CBS News/Adam Verdugo

In an interview with “60 Minutes” airing this Sunday, Pope Francis takes aim at his “conservative critics” in the United States, reportedly saying a conservative is someone who “clings to something and does not want to see beyond that.”

“It is a suicidal attitude,” the pope said as reported by “60 Minutes,” which released a brief clip of the upcoming interview conducted by CBS’ Nora O’Donnell. 

“Because one thing is to take tradition into account, to consider situations from the past, but quite another is to be closed up inside a dogmatic box.”

Francis has occasionally addressed criticism leveled against him during his more than 10 years as pontiff, saying in August 2023 that the U.S. Catholic Church is characterized by “a very strong reactionary attitude.” He has taken actions recently to limit the influence of some of his most prominent clerical critics in the U.S., reportedly taking some Vatican privileges from Cardinal Raymond Burke and removing Bishop Joseph Strickland, a frequent online critic of the pope, from his post as bishop of Tyler, Texas. 

According to CBS, the pope in the recent interview “spoke candidly with O’Donnell about the wars in Israel and Gaza, Ukraine, and the migration crises around the world and on the U.S. southern border.” 

“The wide-ranging conversation also touches upon the Church’s handling of its own sexual abuse scandals; Francis’ deep commitment to inclusiveness within the Church; the backlash against his papacy from certain corners of U.S. Catholicism; and an exploration of his thinking on surrogate parenthood,” the network says, adding that the interview marks “the first time a pope has given an in-depth, one-on-one interview to a U.S. broadcast network.”

The full interview, conducted April 24, will air as part of “60 Minutes” on May 19 from 7-8 p.m. ET on CBS and will be available on Paramount+. More of the interview will air in an hourlong prime-time special on Monday, May 20, at 10 p.m. ET on CBS and Paramount+.

The interview comes ahead of the first-ever World Children’s Day, May 25–26, a new initiative by Pope Francis sponsored by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Culture and Education in collaboration with the Catholic community of Sant’Egidio, the Auxilium Cooperative, and the Italian Football Federation. The Vatican is expecting children from more than 100 countries to travel to Rome for the weekend event with the pope.

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