Does the pope dislike Americans?

Crux article argues that Pope Francis doesn't always feel warm and fuzzy about the Stars and Stripes
Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston meets with Pope Francis during a meeting with U.S. bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington Sept. 23, 2015. O'Malley, the American prelate who's closest to Francis, was one of the signers of the Catholic Climate Petition last year, an effort endorsed by Francis that seeks world leaders to take steps to address climate change. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston meets with Pope Francis during a 2015 meeting with U.S. bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. O’Malley, the American prelate who’s closest to Francis, was one of the signers of the Catholic Climate Petition last year, an effort endorsed by Francis that seeks world leaders to take steps to address climate change. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The following comes from a May 20 Crux article by John L. Allen Jr.:

This week, Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register published a major sit-down interview with Bishop Bernard Fellay, leader of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, the headline from which was Fellay’s diagnosis that a deal for reunion with Rome is close, coupled with his insistence the society won’t betray its principles to get it.

There was a delicious throw-away line on a different topic, however, which shouldn’t get lost.

At one stage, Pentin asked Fellay about the pope’s repeated denunciations of “doctors of the law” and “fundamentalists,” wondering if Fellay takes those jibes as directed at his society or traditionalists generally. In response, Fellay said he’s asked around Rome what the pope means by that language.

“The answer I got most was ‘conservative Americans!’” Fellay, who’s Swiss, laughingly told Pentin. “So really, frankly, I don’t know.”

One might suspect Fellay was deflecting, except for this: He’s absolutely, one hundred percent right about what one typically hears in Rome on the subject of who leaves this pope cold.

By now, it’s clear that one defining feature both of Francis’ personality and his approach to governance – which shouldn’t be at all surprising, when you think about it – is a distinct ambivalence about the United States and about Americans.

First of all, Francis is Latin American, and resentment of the U.S. is sort of mother’s milk across the region. Latin Americans grow up learning about the U.S. role in coups in Honduras, Chile, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere, and there’s a pervasive belief that the political and economic deck has been stacked to ensure that wealth flows north and hardship stays in the south.

Francis also has personal reasons for mixed emotions. He’s well aware that the most overt blowback he’s faced since his election, both inside and outside the Church, has stemmed from the United States.

Repeatedly, he’s been forced by reporters to respond to Rush Limbaugh calling him a Marxist. On a flight on the way back to Rome from Paraguay last July, he acknowledged hearing that “there were some criticisms from the United States” about his environmental encyclical, Laudato Si’. Ecclesiastically, there’s no more visible icon of resistance to some of reforming elements of the pontiff’s agenda than American Cardinal Raymond Burke.

American influence in the Vatican today is at a low ebb, with no major Vatican department currently led by someone from the States. It’s equally telling that the American prelate who’s closest to Francis, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, is known around Rome as il cardinale meno americano degli americani – “the least American of the American cardinals.” (A bearded Capuchin, O’Malley strikes Catholics around the world, and especially in Italy, more as a doppelgänger of Padre Pio than a typical American.)

Today, when Francis talks about “interests” and “powers” and “forces” behind global political and economic systems he finds unjust, those often appear to be code words for the United States – and that, for the record, was before Donald Trump became a major party candidate for president.

Of course, Francis pulled off a massively successful trip to the United States last September, he has sky-high approval ratings in the country, he remains a darling of the American media, and there’s great grassroots excitement about him in many quarters of the American church.

People close to Francis also say his U.S. trip last year helped him to better distinguish between ordinary Americans and “the system.”


  1. Yeah, nobody South of the border likes us except the millions clamoring to get in here. These South American countries have a jealously problem against America. They view us as the problem, not their own incompetence at building anything other than societies resembling giant train wrecks. Hamburgers now $170 in Venezuela. That’s the United States’ fault.

    • Gratias says:

      La culpa es de los Americanos.

      • FromThePew says:

        G, So you blame that on them Americans? That’s because we (Americans) are too nice to everybody! Why don’t they stay & change their own country? S. America’s problems have been that way for generations. Those at the top of the heap have never wanted to take care of anybody but themselves/cronies. That’s Marxism. When they run out of other peoples money, they fail. So everybody goes to the USA to be taken care of. I blame them & their leaders, which they keep electing. Venezuela reaped what it sowed. My goodness, look at Cuba! Socialism in action, not pretty.

  2. d drewelow says:

    i think argentinians are convinced that the different financial debacles and restructuring that argentina has suffered were managed with extreme harhness through corporations based in the world’s financial center, new york. the famous ‘liberation bible’ had an illustration of the twin towers of the world trade center with a caption referring to ‘babylon the great(the twin towers had just been completed shortly before the liberation bible was issued). this bible probably originated among catholic liberationists. the falklands war united left,right, and center against england, seen as a proxy of the united states. not to forget the ‘diry war’ was also seen as part of US cold war…

    • Tom Byrne says:

      D drew:
      Then the Argentines are delusional. That country was messed up long before the US had any influence in the region. In the Falklands, Argentina was an unjust aggressor that was rightfully repelled (by Britain, please, not England). I don’t believe the Pope dislikes us because of alleged bad history, but because we have lots of money but no Catholic soul. Our many bishops preside over emptying churches, as against the bishops of Africa and Asia, who have no money but full churches.

  3. The dislike of Argentinians about the US is based on the failure of the Argentinian economy, which almost collapsed around 2002. As a result, Argentina defaulted on credit and bank loans, and this resulted in the loss of about 82 Billion dollars due the IMF, US creditors and banks. The Argentinians enjoyed the good points of foreign & US investment (it created good times),
    but when they defaulted, of course they blamed the US for all their economic problems. That is the reason for the Pope’s dislike of the US…and we are their convenient scapegoat, for all their own mismanagement of the Argentine banks and economy. The Pope is at heart, a Latin American….(so it is all America’s fault, whatever their problems)

  4. Jesusita says:

    The Holy Father loathes, hates, abhors, detests and despises Americans. Ave Maria Purrissima !

  5. Al norte o al sur, porque todos en este hemisphero somos americanos??

  6. Of course he does not like us, most of us here in on this site have know this since day one. All of you must read regarding the article how Francis is CELEBRATING the ISLAMAZATION of Europe, this man is truly truly a sheep in wolves clothing and my God he along with Angela Merkel have destroyed Germany and Europe!! 2.5 million Muslim men were brought in and this was no accident!

  7. anne o. nymous says:

    Si !!! I wish I had said that.

  8. JD Cahill says:

    Every year each parish collects money to send to the Pope’s Peter’s Pence collection, money to fund his charities. Would the Pope be happy if ‘conservative Americans’ decided to NOT contribute their money to his coffers?

  9. Gratias says:

    The Catholic Pope may despise Americans but much of the money that keeps the Vatican functioning comes from US. Americans still attend Sunday mass and contribute to the collection basket much more than Europeans with exception of the German Kirchsteuer.

    • FromThePew says:

      G, The Pope seems to despise America/Americans but NOT ENOUGH to send back all the charity sent so freely to him/Vatican. How is that being grateful, or thankful or even remotely Christ like? The Pope may want to just count the USA as a blessing that he is not capable of understanding for ‘whatever’ reason and give thanks! Don’t the wise say, why bite the hand that feeds you? Someone said in another post that this Pope was ‘crazy’. I thought that was harsh at the time. After more thought, it seems to be very accurate. He can establish the POOR church of his dreams by sending our/USA donations back!

  10. Well, there are at least two Americans the Pope really likes Obama and Sanders, and the admiration is mutual by the way. Does that tell us anything?

  11. Bob One says:

    The Pope doesn’t hate Americans! What he tries to teach us is that one of our strengths, capitalism, has been allowed to become overly greedy, with no concern for the people. The Church has taught for centuries that the economic system of any country should be directed at the good it can do for the people. Have we ensured that that would happen. Let’s look at the Great Recession, caused by greedy banks willing to take down the economy of the world for a few billion dollars profit. Look at the health care system that locked out so many poor people, He doesn’t dislike us, he dislikes what we have allowed our government and our systems to become. He is trying, I believe, to bring us back to Christ.

    • Greg the Geologist says:

      How to square that with the fact that Americans are by far the most generous with voluntary charitable support of schools, hospitals, local churches, relief efforts and other nonprofits? Or do you believe it’s the government’s proper role to take care of everyone, cradle to grave, with the astronomical tax rates to support such a socialist system? Maybe it’s that despised system of Capitalism that actually creates the wealth that allows Americans that level of generosity! Or more properly, economic freedom in the traditional / constitutional American sense allows the people to create (not just distribute) wealth. Conversely, Leftism views economics as a zero-sum game. Can we do better and be more generous? Of course! And it’s…

    • Tom Byrne says:

      Bob One:
      There may be some “Latin skepticism” of North American culture, to be expected from his upbringing and experiences in Argentina, but that’s hardly the prejudice some seem to take it to be.

    • Whatever faults that the adherents and capitalism and free enterprise have, and there are many, atheistic Marxism and Socialism are not the answer. Jesus Christ, Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition are the answer.

      When will Catholics realize that Jesus Christ and Karl Marx cannot be reconciled?

      • Gratias says:

        At a mínimum Pope Francisco despises US. All of Jesuitical Liberation Theology is permeated by the famous book The Open Veins of Latin America by Uruguayan Marxist Eduardo Galeano. In short, the book says that the Norteamericanos are at fault for the underdevelopment of Latin America, Latins are poor victims. Open Veins was the gift that Hugo Chavez, the savior of Venezuela, gave to Barack H. Obama when they met.

      • Free Market Capitalism (unfettered, unbridled, or whatnot) is never at fault. Why? Because a free market–or peaceable voluntary exchange (as all the really cool people call it)–always corrects itself.

        • Anonymous says:

          and oft spoken trope, with no evidence to support it. It’s just people who worship at the free-market altar that say it, and they think that because they say it, it must be true.

          • Thanks, not I, but rather Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, over two centuries ago: “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations,” or “Wealth of Nations” for short. You’re in for a quite a treat.

          • FromThePew says:

            A, Middle ground? What kind of argument is that? Can’t understand & appreciate what is around you? Then educate yourself by immersion in whatever other place you think is better. What country has this illusive ‘middle ground’ you seek? Go there. There is no heaven on earth. But this country is pretty darn close for those who are able to appreciate it. Just the fact you fell back on the old ‘social justice’ credo explains a lot.

        • FromThePew says:

          H, Don’t you just WISH those that despise free market enterprise Love it OR Leave it. Why not go to Cuba, Russia, Venezuela & enjoy yourself there where you will blend in with all the others that love Socialism? Why is the rush in the other direction? Towards free markets?

          • Anonymous says:

            FTP, don’t you think there can be a difference between despising something and thinking it is perfect? Is there no middle ground? That middle ground is what I am advocating for. Understanding that unbridled capitalism is a flawed system has been a big part of catholic social teaching for about a century and a quarter. Unless you go back to Christ, of course, then it’s been a thing for 2 millennia.

          • FTP: Yes, Immigration, not Imitation, is the highest form of flattery.

  12. Amusing. Especially the part about mother’s (sour) milk and Latin hallucinations where the deck is stacked “to ensure that wealth flows north and hardship stays in the south.” Ha-ha, good one.

  13. Yep, a cultural thing, perhaps even linguistic (“the cup spilled itself.”). And all too human. The gist is, that for Pope Francis, Abp Gomez, Abp Oscar Romero et al., it simply sticks in their craw that an Anglo-Protestant country flourishes while the home team languishes. And where Bull Fighting was a revered pastime, sits a disinclination to take the economic bull by the horns. Oh well, chalk it up to the ever handy Yankee Imperialism.

    To borrow from yon lean Cassius: The fault, dear Francis/Jose/Oscar, is not in our Stars (and Stripes), but in yourselves, that you are underlings.

  14. Anonymous says:

    What a bunch of nonsense!
    No Pope needs to worship Americans, Europeans, Africans, or Asians.
    He needs to challenge each culture to listen to the Gospel and follow Christ, and, when the Pope notices a people going against God (either because it worships money or is addicted to immorality), it’s the Pope’s job to speak up!
    Americans are not God, nor are Latin Americans, Canadians, Germans, or Italians. This is why Pope Francis, and indeed each Pope throughout history, has challenged the people of every nation where they are wrong.
    Don’t forget “Mit brennender Sorge” …

    • Catherine says:

      “or is addicted to immorality”, it’s the Pope’s job to speak up!

      Well, ominous anonymous, you struck out on that one! The Pope told people to stop talking about abortion and homosexuality. Let’s scrub away the still un-addressed problem by erasing the memory of the initial John Jay report. Lets also stop talking about the reality of the hundreds of babies who are slaughtered, daily worldwide. After all, Mr. Anonymous, the Pope said the most important crisis is “teenage unemployment.”


    • Catherine says:

      The Church has historically and theologically ALWAYS equated poverty with spiritual poverty. Jesus said, “The poor, you will always have with you.” The Church has historically been the MOST generous to the poor so this newfound call as if there has been no mercy is an unmerciful affront to the TRUTH of many years of generosity Pope Francis was the first Pope to publicly use the word “gay”.


    • Catherine says:


      This brought great global joy to leftist activists and homosexual activists. Not a sign of contradiction! This also gave joyful global life to the false notion of the correctness of a person identifying himself/herself by their temptations. The words “homophobic” “gay” and “pro-choice” are not terms that a Shepherd should use. Those sound like compromising terms that are used by secular society and for those who are running interference for an agenda, like ominous, anonymous.

  15. Anne T. says:

    Anonymous is right about some things he said on May 24 at 7:08 pm. Some forget that Pope Francis gave Mexico quite a tongue lashing before he went there, especially the drugs lords. Pornography, drug dealing, excessive gambling and so forth ARE part of capitalism in this country, and not always illegal. Perhaps that is part of what the pope meant. Anything done in extreme or misused is a vice. Just as tolerance can be good, it can also be bad. Even charity carried to the extreme can be wrong if we do not care for our own families.

    Virtus est in medius.

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