Pope Francis admits he falls asleep while praying

Pope Francis during the Angelus in St Peter's Sqaure on the feast of All Saints- AFP

Pope Francis during the Angelus in St Peter's Sqaure on the feast of All Saints- AFP

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) released a statement Wednesday announcing the resignation of Father Thomas Weinandy from the position of consultant to the Committee on Doctrine, following harsh criticism that Weinandy levied against Francis.

"Throughout the history of the Church, ministers, theologians and the laity all have debated and have held personal opinions on a variety of theological and pastoral issues", the cardinal said. Weinandy accused Francis of cultivating "chronic confusion" within the church, "demeaning" the importance of doctrine, creating a welcoming atmosphere for "harmful theological and pastoral views", and giving the impression that those who criticize him will be alienated "or worse", according to Crux Now.

Fr Weinandy also criticises Pope Francis's efforts at decentralisation, saying they are threating to undermine the Church's unity.

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Francissaid earlier this year that the Church should consider allowing married men to become priests in specific circumstances, effectively reversing the centuries-old practice that Roman Catholic priests must be celibate. "So his letter carries the weight of the centre". "Your guidance at times seems intentionally ambiguous, thus inviting both a traditional interpretation of Catholic teaching on marriage and divorce as well as one that might imply a change in that teaching", Father Weinandy wrote.

Jacob Wood, theology professor at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, raised concerns about the publication of the letter in the media.

He told Crux he did not write the letter in an official capacity, but after praying for a sign he should speak up while in Rome in May for a meeting of the International Theological Commission. "There does exist some danger of scandal".

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In an interview with Crux and an explanation about his letter published by Catholic World Report, Father Weinandy said he felt divine inspiration for writing the letter to the pope.

RR Reno, editor of First Things magazine, and formerly a professor of theology at Creighton University, told CNA that publishing letters like Fr Weinandy's can be helpful to Catholics.

Fr Charles L. Sammons, OFM Cap, told CNA that he lived with Fr Weinandy in 2015.

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Italian philosophy professor Rocco Buttiglione, who was a close friend and adviser of St. Pope John Paul II, charged the theologians were trying to stand as "judges over the pope", while theologian Robert Fastiggi and author Dawn Eden Goldstein argued that the authors of the correction violated a 1990 Vatican document titled Donum Veritatis on the proper role of Catholic theologians, which says they should make reservations known only "in an evangelical spirit and a profound desire to resolve the difficulties".

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