Padre Pio Will Not Save Francis’ Face
And it came to pass the body of Padre Pio is going to be transported to Rome in a 500km travel also stopping at Pietrelcina, his birthplace.
Clearly, there is some hope among the people at the Vatican that the strong devotion of the Italian people for this greatest of modern Saints will revive the affluence of pilgrims, thus saving – as far as it goes – Francis' face.
Alas, I see a little problem with this.
Padre Pio was the very embodiment of everything Francis hates. Whenever Francis criticises the old, rigid, legalists, strictly “by the rule” Catholics, you know they all have Padre Pio as their champions, and Padre Pio would have been proud, not ashamed, of them. Padre Pio is the perfect anti-Francis.
I also note that Padre Pio was very known to – in Francis' words – “obsess” about homosexuality and communism. There is no doubt Padre Pio loathed the fake priest in the style of Bergoglio, and was horrified by Vatican II. He famously said he hoped to die before being put in front of the choice whether to celebrate the Novus Ordo or disobey (he was later exempted, like many other old priests). In short, Padre Pio is all that Francis hates, and Padre Pio would have loathed all that Francis is and does.
I do not know whether the pilgrims will run to see Padre Pio, though I think it probable. I can well imagine many will stay home in order to avoid their devotion for the holy man being abused by Francis as his own success. However, the love for Padre Pio is very strong in Italy, and San Giovanni Rotondo is still a fairly isolated place in the middle of the mountains in Southern Italy.
Be it as it may, this is not Francis having any traction.
This is Francis trying to shine out of Padre Pio's light.