Rolling Stone put down of Benedict in Francis cover story is 'crude' says Vatican

(Photo: REUTERS / Alessandro Bianchi)A priest and a nun walk by a large drawing of Pope Francis depicting him as a superhero on a wall near the Vatican January 29, 2014. The Argentinian Pope is shown taking off into air with his right fist clenched in a classic Superman style.

The times they are a-changin' when the Pope is cover story of Rolling Stone magazine.

Readers of the popular culture magazine will wake up Friday to see the face of Pope Francis on the cover.

The article is titled: "Pope Francis: The Times They Are A-Changin'" with a strap saying, "Inside the Pope's gentle revolution."

He is the first pope to clinch the top spot in Rolling Stone.

The Vatican is, however, not impressed with the article, criticizing it for "crudeness" and labeling it "superficial journalism" for its criticism of Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict.

"[The piece] is a sign of the attention that the novelties of Pope Francis attract from many different quarters," said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi.

"Unfortunately, the article disqualifies itself, falling into the usual mistake of a superficial journalism, which, in order to shed light on the positive aspects of Pope Francis, thinks it needs to describe the pontificate of Pope Benedict in a negative way, and does so with a surprising crudeness."

"This is not the way to do a good service even to Pope Francis, who knows very well what the Church owes to his predecessor."

Rolling Stone author Mark Binelli wrote, "After the disastrous papacy of Benedict, a staunch traditionalist who looked like he should be wearing a striped shirt with knife-fingered gloves and menacing teenagers in their nightmares."

Conversely on his successor he writes, "Up close, Pope Francis, the 266th vicar of Jesus Christ on Earth, a man whose obvious humility, empathy and, above all, devotion to the economically disenfranchised has come to feel perfectly suited to our times, looks stouter than on television.

"Having famously dispensed with the more flamboyant pontifical accessories, he's also surprisingly stylish, today wearing a double-breasted white overcoat, white scarf and slightly creamier cassock, all impeccably tailored."

Pope Francis was late last year chose as Time magazine's Person of the Year.

Later Esquire, the men's style magazine chose Pope Francis as its Best Dressed Man of 2013.


Esquire said its choice was "unconventional," but that, "Pope Francis's sartorial decisions have subtly signaled a new era (and for many, renewed hope) for the Catholic Church."

A sign of Pope Francis' popularity outside the Church came when the oldest gay rights magazine in the United States, the Advocate in December, named Francis its "Person of the Year" as the pontiff marked his 77th birthday.

The Advocate said it gave Francis the honor because, although he is still against homosexual marriage, his pontificate so far had shown "a stark change in (anti-gay) rhetoric from his two predecessors."

At the time of Time magazine's choice of Pope Francis as its "Person of the Year" for 2013, the Vatican welcomed the decision saying the pontiff was happy if it gave people hope, but that he was not seeking fame.

The Holy See's Lombardi, said at the time, "The decision didn't come as a surprise given the great resonance and attention surrounding the election of Pope Francis right from the start of the new pontificate."

He said it is a positive sign that such a prestigious award should go to a person who "promotes spiritual, religious and moral values as well as call for peace and greater justice in an incisive manner."

Lombardi said, "As for the Pope himself, he's not someone who seeks fame and success, because he has put his life at the service of announcing the Gospel of the love of God for mankind."

Writing on Benedict Rolling Stone wrote, "After he became Pope Benedict in 2005, Ratzinger couldn't seem to catch a break, and he certainly lacked the ability to apply his widely acknowledged brilliance as an academic to snuffing out fires in the real world."

While on Francis the article says, "Thus far, Francis' humble lifestyle decisions as pope - riding around town in a Ford Focus instead of a chauffeured Mercedes limo, for example - have been terrific and all, but the hosannas directed his way can feel a bit like he's being graded on a curve."

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