I was shocked when I saw them. I was sitting just a few rows behind a nun on a tram, when it stopped alongside some posters of a stern-looking Pope Francis. Underneath his glum, almost menacing face, was a list of complaints: he’d removed priests, ignored the concerns of cardinals and “decapitated” an ancient Catholic group, the Knights of Malta.
This is the opposite of what I have come to expect in Rome. The tram was winding through a part of the city where you’re normally greeted by images of a smiling Pope, with arms outstretched or making a thumbs up.
Here in Italy the papacy is the closest thing there is to a monarchy, so perhaps it is no surprise that the city authorities ordered the offending text to be pasted over, leaving just the grim-faced image of Francis and a sign reading: “Illegal bill posting”.