An Italian priest, Father Ramon Guidetti, has been excommunicated for asserting that Pope Francis is a "Jesuit freemason linked to world powers."
Father Ramon is now prohibited from serving in the Catholic Church after a New Year's address where he drew comparisons between the late Pope Benedict XVI and the current Pontiff, Pope Francis. Father Ramon described Francis as having a "cadaverous gaze into nothingness," in contrast to the "good Benedict".
In response to these remarks, Father Ramon's bishop, Simone Giusti, issued a statement stating that the priest of St Ranieri Church in Guasticce had "publicly committed an act of a schismatic nature" and ordered his suspension. The bishop also cautioned other priests against participating in any of Father Ramon's services, emphasising that doing so would incur "the very serious penalty of excommunication”.
Father Ramon had a history of making similar remarks against Pope Francis. Following his ex-communication, he expressed his calmness but astonishment at the swiftness of the decision. He is apparently unrepentant and remarked to a local radio station, "I am calm, but astonished at the speed at which the guillotine came down. I will frame the decree and hang it on the wall – it will be something I will boast about."
Pope Francis has recently faced criticism from the conservative wing of the Catholic Church after seeming to approve a ruling allowing priests to bless same-sex couples just before Christmas. The document, known as 'Fiducia Supplicans', said to allow a "brief, spontaneous, pastoral blessing" to those in unmarried and same-sex couples, as long as it does not resemble a marriage ceremony, has caused widespread confusion for catholics around the globe.
Some have defended the move, saying access to God's love and blessing should be unconditional and should not require an "intimate interrogation" about lifestyle. Others have been more cautious, while many in the church feel it was a step too far that has marked a significant shift in the Catholic Church's stance on such matters.