Posters of a stern-looking Pope Francis appeared on walls around Rome on Saturday, condemning his actions against some conservative Catholics and asking, “Where is your mercy?”
Written in local Roman dialect, the posters lamented that the Pope had “removed priests; decapitated the Knights of Malta” and “ignored Cardinals,” echoing some of the major complaints some conservative Catholics have about Pope Francis’ recent decisions. The posters were not signed by any group.
On the day the posters appeared the Pope finalized a months-long battle with the Knights of Malta by appointing a Special Delegate from the Vatican and giving him “all necessary powers” to help renew the traditional Catholic Order.
The Knights of Malta have a unique “sovereign” standing within the Catholic Church, similar to that of a separate country, and they had contested the legality of the Pope’s intervention into their order.
Last month the Pope forced the resignation of the head of the Knights of Malta, former Grand Master Matthew Festing, who had publicly opposed him.
The reference in the poster to “decapitation of the Knights of Malta” refers to this battle.