The Irish Catholic Church has issued a warning that the recent publication of an “anti-Catholic” essay by a Catholic priest in The Irish News was a “disturbing development” that was “unhelpful to the cause of freedom of expression”.
The essay by the Rev Patrick Gorman was published on Sunday and described the “coup d’état” against Pope Francis.
The piece has been criticised by some in the Catholic community and by the Irish Government as being “unworthy of publication”.
The letter, written by the Vatican’s spokesman, said the essay, which had been widely shared on social media, was “clearly anti-Catholic in character”.
The Catholic Church said it was “not responsible” for the comments, but said it would “take a clear stance” against what it called “hate speech”.
The Pope’s spokeswoman, Maria Teresa Pascual, told the Irish Times that “in its current form, this article, if published, is deeply offensive and it is not the position of the Vatican to condemn any form of anti-Semitism or any form to which the Catholic faith or our Catholic communities is tied”.
The Vatican’s statement follows a series of controversies surrounding Pope Francis, including accusations of racism and homophobia.
The Pope is known for his tough stance on Catholics who leave the Church over their views on homosexuality.
Earlier this month, he apologised for a remark he made about the Irish language and said he had never spoken in it in his entire life.
“It is not my place to judge others and I am sorry that my words could be seen as judging,” he said in an address in St Peter’s Square.
The pope is also under pressure to show leadership after a US judge ruled he was not in contempt of court in an unrelated case.
He was charged last month for failing to follow court orders to produce documents in the case.
A Vatican spokesman said it could not comment on individual cases.
In a statement on Sunday, the Vatican said it had been working closely with the Irish government and the Church to “support the rights of all citizens and protect the right of conscience”.
The church, which has faced tremendous persecution in recent times, has responded by showing its resilience in the face of grave difficulties. “
This is a challenging time for all, but particularly for the Church, which is under enormous pressure.
In the coming days, we will work with the government and with all those who are in a position to contribute to a healthy dialogue with the pope.”