Carla Caffara , 'leader of papal opposition,' dies

Cardinal Caffarra

 ROME-  On Thursday Cardinal  Carlo Caffarra,  a leader of the most conservative faction in the Roman Catholic Church, died after prolonged illness at age 79, the Vatican said. Archbishop Caffara had been Archbishop of Bologna for the past 12 years, and recently had collided on an ideological level with Pope Francis.

 Caffarra was one of the four main critics who published an open letter criticising the Pontiff’s encyclical on family and wedding, Amoris Laetitia, in particular attacking his decision to leave it to individual priests whether to give the eucharist to divorced Catholics who have remarried, a step that conservatives see as undermining the sacrament of matrimony. The deceased prelate had been quite vocal in his attacks against homosexuality and in defence of traditional families.

 Despite their differences, Cardinal Caffarra and the pope never lost respect for one another, as shown by their intense embrace last April, after the pope’s visit to the Capri dome.

 The funeral is to be celebrated by the current bishop of Bologna, Matteo Zuppi. Bishop Zuppi recalls one occasion when, at the end of a meeting with the pope when he brought Caffarra’s greetings to the pontiff, the latter replied ‘‘I have much real affection for Cardinal Caffarra. Please remember to tell him that.’’

 Archbishop Caffarra reputedly had also been the owner of a multinational company, the Faac of Zola Perdosa. His death brings the total number of voting cardinals back to 120. Caffara was the second of the four cardinals who published the open letter to die since their act of rebellion against the Argentine pontiff.