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Pope talks criticisms, populism in latest interview with German weekly


Pope Francis greets a new priest during a 2015 ordination Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican April 26. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When facing criticism, a sense of humor and the grace to remain at peace are always the best response, Pope Francis said in an interview with Germany's Die Zeit newspaper.

In the interview, published March 8 online and in print March 9, the pope laughed and said the Roman dialect featured in posters that were plastered around the Rome city center criticizing him "was great."

The poster, featuring a stern-faced picture of the pope, said: "Ah Francis, you've taken over congregations, removed priests, decapitated the Order of Malta and the Franciscans of the Immaculate, ignored cardinals ... but where is your mercy?"

"There is this prayer -- which is attributed to (St.) Thomas More -- that I pray every day: 'Lord, give me a sense of humor!' The Lord preserves my peace and gives me a great sense of humor," Pope Francis said.

Vatican Radio released a brief summary with selected quotes from the nearly 6,000-word interview, in which the pope discussed several issues and events.

Among the areas of discussion was his relationship with Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, current patron of the Order of Malta, who is often viewed as one of Pope Francis' most vocal critics.

The pope denied rumors that Cardinal Burke was sent to Guam as a form of "exile" to be the presiding judge in a church trial investigating allegations of sexual abuse leveled against Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron of Agana.

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