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Parishioners storm out of Mass in protest after priest slams Pope Francis

A priest in Italy is being asked to take a break from his parish after he reportedly criticized Pope Francis during Palm Sunday Mass, Religion News Service reports.

Media reports claimed the priest, who is from India, didn’t take kindly to the pope’s interfaith dialogue, especially his decision to wash a Muslim woman’s feet on Holy Thursday at the start of his papacy.

“In four years Pope Francis has only been bad for the Church,” the priest allegedly said.

In response, shouts of “Shame, shame!” reportedly rang out from the congregation as some churchgoers stormed out on one of the most significant days on the Christian calendar.

The situation has forced Archbishop Tommaso Valentinetti to intervene, Religion News Service reports.

“Preaching is one of the main activities in the ministry of a priest,” Valentinetti said. “It is a service linked to meditation on the Word of the day, the liturgy, and certainly cannot relate to personal judgments, especially when they are not in communion with the pope.”

The episode highlights some of the vocal opposition that Francis faces from members of the clergy. But it also demonstrates how much goodwill among the faithful that this pontiff enjoys.