Fake Cover page latest in anti-Pope content

The cover page

 VATICAN CITY -- A new spoof newspaper appeared on Friday in this tiny city state following a mysterious swathe of anti-Pope Francis propaganda inspired by hardline conservative critics.

 The fake ‘L’Osservatore Romano’ front page has been making the rounds as an email attachment while hundreds of very real anti-pope posters appeared on billboards around the city of Rome over the 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. Further into the fake paper there are several sub-headlines containing quotes from Cardinal Walter Kasper saying that “I fell to my knees uncomfortably but this is the only appropriate position to be in to hear the illuminating words of our saintly pope to four unsure cardinals.” The issue has become the focal point of conservative unease with Francis’ papacy.

 The editor-in-chief of the real L’Osservatore Romano, Giovanni Maria Vian, thanked whoever was responsible for the free publicity.

 “We were only sad because the layout wasn’t as nice as ours,” Vian said on Friday. In between laughs, he added that it clearly wasn’t a professional job given “the Latin isn’t the Latin of the Curia.”

 The tongue-in-cheek content was like a sarcastic YouTube video that takes aim at Francis on the divorce-remarriage issue. Both were humorous whereas the anonymous posters that appeared on Roman billboards Saturday morning struck a more serious tone: They asked Francis “Where is your mercy?” and referred to some heavy-handed initiatives that he’s taken against conservatives or traditional Catholics.

 The posters featuring a sour-faced pope — many of which are still up a week later — cited Francis’ recent “decapitation” of the Knights of Malta religious order, as well as the cardinals he had “ignored” in refusing to clarify the divorce-remarriage question.

 As of yet the Vatican is yet to make an official statement but it seems that little heed will be payed to this latest swipe at the Pope despite it being circulated within the Vatican’s internal email chain.