The war against Pope Francis


Published Originally on The Guardian  (To support the Guardian click here ) 

His modesty and humility have made him a popular figure around the world. But inside the church, his reforms have infuriated conservatives and sparked a revolt. By 

Pope Francis is one of the most hated men in the world today. Those who hate him most are not atheists, or protestants, or Muslims, but some of his own followers. Outside the church he is hugely popular as a figure of almost ostentatious modesty and humility. From the moment that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio became pope in 2013, his gestures caught the world’s imagination: the new pope drove a Fiat, carried his own bags and settled his own bills in hotels; he asked, of gay people, “Who am I to judge?” and washed the feet of Muslim women refugees.

But within the church, Francis has provoked a ferocious backlash from conservatives who fear that this spirit will divide the church, and could even shatter it. This summer, one prominent English priest said to me: “We can’t wait for him to die. It’s unprintable what we say in private. Whenever two priests meet, they talk about how awful Bergoglio is … he’s like Caligula: if he had a horse, he’d make him cardinal.” Of course, after 10 minutes of fluent complaint, he added: “You mustn’t print any of this, or I’ll be sacked.”

This mixture of hatred and fear is common among the pope’s adversaries. Francis, the first non-European pope in modern times, and the first ever Jesuit pope, was elected as an outsider to the Vatican establishment, and expected to make enemies. But no one foresaw just how many he would make. From his swift renunciation of the pomp of the Vatican, which served notice to the church’s 3,000-strong civil service that he meant to be its master, to his support for migrants, his attacks on global capitalism and, most of all, his moves to re-examine the church’s teachings about sex, he has scandalised reactionaries and conservatives. To judge by the voting figures at the last worldwide meeting of bishops, almost a quarter of the college of Cardinals – the most senior clergy in the church – believe that the pope is flirting with heresy.

The crunch point has come in a fight over his views on divorce. Breaking with centuries, if not millennia, of Catholic theory, Pope Francis has tried to encourage Catholic priests to give communion to some divorced and remarried couples, or to families where unmarried parents are cohabiting. His enemies are trying to force him to abandon and renounce this effort.

Since he won’t, and has quietly persevered in the face of mounting discontent, they are now preparing for battle. Last year, one cardinal, backed by a few retired colleagues, raised the possibility of a formal declaration of heresy – the wilful rejection of an established doctrine of the church, a sin punishable by excommunication. Last month, 62 disaffected Catholics, including one retired bishop and a former head of the Vatican bank, published an open letter that accused Francis of seven specific counts of heretical teaching.

To accuse a sitting pope of heresy is the nuclear option in Catholic arguments. Doctrine holds that the pope cannot be wrong when he speaks on the central questions of the faith; so if he is wrong, he can’t be pope. On the other hand, if this pope is right, all his predecessors must have been wrong.

The question is particularly poisonous because it is almost entirely theoretical. In practice, in most of the world, divorced and remarried couples are routinely offered communion. Pope Francis is not proposing a revolution, but the bureaucratic recognition of a system that already exists, and might even be essential to the survival of the church. If the rules were literally applied, no one whose marriage had failed could ever have sex again. This is not a practical way to ensure there are future generations of Catholics.

The newly appointed Pope Francis at the Vatican in 2013.
 The newly appointed Pope Francis at the Vatican in 2013. Photograph: Osservatore Romano/Reuters
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3 thoughts on “The war against Pope Francis

  • September 3, 2018 at 4:10 pm
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    Our Beloved Pope Francis right now reminds me of Jesus Christ, First the Passion,in silence, then the Cross,but then the resurrection, It’s since He became our Pope that like Jesus Christ his Persecuted by His oun , But Like Jesus Christ HE will Win,I Love Him more than ever,

  • September 3, 2018 at 11:59 pm
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    Pope Francis stands accused of relaxing restrictions against senior Catholic clergy who were guilty of criminal activity. By doing this he risks damaging the faith and scandalising the faithful. The 77 year old archbishop has made serious charges against Pope Francis and the only way to get to the truth is an open and honest investigation. This is what happens elsewhere in the Church. If it is true that Pope Francis has reduced these restrictions it makes his words about “zero tolerance” look empty. We already know that he made a complete mess of the appointment of a Bishop who was a sex abuser just 6 months ago. Pope Francis accused those were telling the Church he was a pervert that they were guilty of slander. Well they werent, and the Cardinal responsible said that he had given the evidence to Pope Francis. Pope Francis denied he ever got it. Either way Pope Francis had to back down and remove the Bishop. The same with a priest who was defrocked, Francis restored him to the priesthood only to get humiliated yet again by the priest being convicted, (I think he was bolivian) and he got defrocked again. The Pope is not Jesus Christ and those who are calling for an open and transparent investigation are the ones on the side of truth. Half of this article goes into areas that are irrelevant to the questions in hand.

  • September 4, 2018 at 2:51 am
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    the people only want the truth , silence is an answer in it self . Check canon law on sexual abuse then you will see how they look upon it

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