Is Catholic Opposition to Pope Francis Growing?
Is there now a significant Catholic opposition to Pope Francis and his reform agenda or not? This topic has been raised repeatedly in recent days, which is reason enough to present some of the different arguments here. When delivering on 1 June the keynote address about Catholicism in the U.S. and in Europe at a prominent Catholic-secular Austrian conference, John Allen, Vatican specialist and editor of Crux, told his audience that the opposition against Pope Francis from conservatives in the Roman Curia, as well as in the Universal Church, “should not be overestimated,” according to a report on the Austrian bishops’ official website kathpress.at. Just as in the case of all the other previous 265 popes, Pope Francis does have – according to Allen – some problems with bishops. However, reports kathpress.at:
The purported reports about an existing rift between the pope and his “opponents” are caused by the dynamics of social media, as well as by the general laws of the media themselves, according to Allen. It is simply a “sexy story” when conservative bishops are opposing a liberal pope.Allen, as a well-connected Vatican specialist, “practically never meets any general resistance against the pontificate of Francis,” even though there are mentioned, sometimes, “reservations about certain substantive topics,” says kathpress.at. In spite of this, in Allen’s eyes, Pope Francis is “’the’ religious leader per se” who wisely uses his “soft power” – aiming at a change of attitudes and visions, rather than depending on external power. In Allen’s eyes, Francis can achieve much by showing himself to be “a friend” to certain conflicting parties and thus can help build bridges, such as between Cuba and the U.S., in Colombia and in Egypt.
While speaking in a very affirming way about Pope Francis, John Allen by contrast makes his opinion clear that Pope Benedict had – also due to his Regensburg address which alienated some Muslim authorities and due to his former role as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – a much more unfortunate situation where he was perceived as the “Panzer Kardinal” (“cardinal in armor”) and as a “Darth Vader” of the Catholic Church, even though Allen insists that this description does not at all do justice to Benedict.