In his message, Pope Francis warned faith is declining and the Church must adapt to ensure its message reaches people from all walks of life. He said: “Today we are no longer the only ones that produce culture, no longer the first nor the most listened to. “The faith in Europe and in much of the West is no longer an obvious presumption but is often denied, derided, marginalised and ridiculed.
“Here we have to beware of the temptation of assuming a rigid outlook. Rigidity that is born from fear of change and ends up disseminating stakes and obstacles in the ground of the common good, turning it into a minefield of misunderstanding and hatred.”
The statement comes amid persisting divisions in the Catholic Church, with conservative critics questioning the revolutionary papacy of Francis.
Influential figures in the Catholic Church have called out the Pope for allegedly promoting “idolatrous worship” for symbols of fertility after pan-Amazon bishops visited the Vatican in October.
In a letter signed by 100 Catholic Church figures, the Pope’s actions were also described as “sacreligious”.
Amazonian bishops had merely displayed a statue of “fertility goddess” Pachamama, a god worshipped predominantly in the Andes and also known as the ‘Earth Mother’.
The letter from Francis’ critics added: “We respectfully ask Pope Francis to repent publicly and unambiguously of these objectively grave sins and of all the public offences that he has committed against God and the true religion, and to make reparation for these offences.
“We respectfully ask all the bishops of the Catholic Church to offer fraternal correction to Pope Francis for these scandals, and to warn their flocks that according to the divinely revealed teaching of the Catholic faith, they will risk eternal damnation if they follow his example of offending against the First Commandment.”
The Pope has also clashed with a bishop from the Opus Dei group in the Catholic Church.
READ MORE:Pope Francis: How Vatican leader clashed with Opus Dei bishop
The Pope has also faced resistance from outside of the Vatican walls, with Italian politician Matteo Salvini emerging as a major political opponent
One tweet from Mr Salvini’s account, in May 2016, said: “The pope says migrants are not a danger. Whatever!”
He was also pictured in 2016 holding a shirt saying “Benedict is my pope.”