Pope Francis Ducks Showdown with Conservative Cardinals

Pope Francis talks with journalists aboard a plane during the flight back from Malmo to Rome, on November 1, 2016, after a two-days visit in Sweden.  

 / AFP / POOL / ETTORE FERRARI        (Photo credit should read ETTORE FERRARI/AFP/Getty Images)
(AFP) – Pope Francis has said he is not losing any sleep over a challenge from a group of conservative cardinals who have accused the Argentine of contradicting Church teaching. The comments published Friday in the Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian conference of bishops, follow a direct challenge to the pope’s authority from American Cardinal Raymond Burke, who has threatened to undermine Francis’ authority in a row over the rights of remarried divorced couples. Burke said in an interview earlier this week that it may be necessary to make a highly rare “formal act of correction” if Francis does not answer a letter he wrote with three other cardinals calling for clarification on a document penned by the pope on the theme of the family. The challenge is “not making me lose any sleep”, the 79-year-old Argentine told Avvenire. “Sometimes criticisms are merely aimed at vindicating already fixed opinions (rather than fuelling debate). They are not honest, they are driven by a mean spirit to incite divisions,” he said. Despite shrugging off the issue, the pope’s decision not to convene a traditional meeting of cardinals ahead of a ceremony Saturday to appoint 17 new “princes” of the Church is