Commenting on criticism of his papacy, Pope Francis said that he considers it “an honor when the Americans attack me.”

The Holy Father made his comments on Wednesday during his flight from Rome to Mozambique for a five day papal trip to visit three countries in East Africa.

Given a book entitled How America Wants to Change the Pope by Vatican correspondent Nicolas Senèze, Pope Francis said he heard of the book but had not personally read it as he couldn’t find a copy. The book went on sale the day of his flight.

Handing the copy to an aide, he told Senèze “this will be a bombshell” and said that “for me, it’s an honor when the Americans attack me.”

Senèze’s book posits wealthy, “rigorist” Catholics are in opposition to Pope Francis’ teachings on mercy and his ethical perspectives on the world’s economy and environment.

When Pope Francis returned to the front of the plane, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni returned to the press section and elaborated on the Holy Father’s comments.

“In an informal context, the pope wanted to say that he always considers criticisms an honor, particularly when they come from authoritative thinkers — in this case from an important nation.”

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