Anonymous posters criticizing pope appear in Rome


ROME, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Posters accusing Pope Francis of attacking conservative Catholics appeared around Rome this weekend and were swiftly covered up by city authorities.

The posters, put up during the night between Friday and Saturday by mystery activists, featured a picture of a stern-faced pope and the slogan: "Where's your mercy?"

The text accused Francis of several interventions targeting conservatives, including what the posters called "the beheading of the Knights of Malta."

See the posters below:

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Anonymous posters criticizing the Pope appear in Rome
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Anonymous posters criticizing the Pope appear in Rome
A poster depicting Pope Francis and accusing him of attacking conservative Catholics is seen in Rome, Italy, February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Max Rossi
A worker covers with a banner reading "illegal poster" a poster depicting Pope Francis and accusing him of attacking conservative Catholics is seen in Rome, Italy, February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Max Rossi
A worker covers with a banner reading "illegal poster" a poster depicting Pope Francis and accusing him of attacking conservative Catholics is seen in Rome, Italy, February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Max Rossi
Pope Francis speaks as he leads the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Pope Francis holds a candle as he leads the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Pope Francis holds a candle as he arrives to lead the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Pope Francis leads the weekly audience in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Max Rossi
Pope Francis greets a child as he arrives to lead the weekly audience in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Max Rossi
Pope Francis arrives to lead the weekly audience in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Max Rossi
Pope Francis leads his Sunday Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican January 29, 2017. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
Pope Francis leads the Second Vespers at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside The Walls in Rome, Italy January 25, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Pope Francis blesses a baby as he arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican January 25, 2017. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Pope Francis waves as he leads his Sunday Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican January 22, 2017. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Pope Francis celebrates a Mass to mark the closing of a Jubilee year for the 800th anniversary of the official foundation of the Dominican Order in Saint John Basilica in Rome, Italy January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Pope Francis celebrates a Mass to mark the closing of a Jubilee year for the 800th anniversary of the official foundation of the Dominican Order in Saint John Basilica in Rome, Italy January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
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This was a reference to an ancient Catholic order of knights which is now a worldwide charity and whose former Grand Master handed in his resignation to the pope last week after a two-month, highly public feud.

The posters appeared several hours before the Vatican announced the name of the pope's personal delegate to the troubled order, a move that side-lined conservative Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, who had been its chaplain since 2014 and is a frequent critic of the pope.

In a letter released by the Vatican on Saturday, Francis told Archbishop Angelo Becciu that he would be the "exclusive spokesman" for the pope at the Order until elections are held for a new Grand Master in several months..

The posters were even more mysterious because sections of the text were written in the working class dialect Romanesco, spoken only in the Rome area.

City authorities pasted white paper over them with the message "illegal advertising," as they had been put up without authorisation or the payment of a tax.

The Vatican had no comment. But Father Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit who is close to the pope, said in a tweet that they were a sign that Francis was doing a good job and therefore irritating many people. (Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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