Popular as ever
but Criticism doesn't abate
By Nicole Winfield, in Crux all things Catholic
Associated Press December 17, 2015
Pope Francis blew out a candle on a birthday cake he received from group of Catholic Action youths he met during a private audience at the Vatican Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015. (L'Osservatore Romano via AP)
(Note: Pope Francis celebrated his 79th birthday on Dec.17th and is now in his 80th year, While the whole world rejoice his critics in the Church want it be his last, literally praying for his exit from this world before he completes the year 2016. It is the conservative wing among the bishops and publications like Remnant who are spearheading this campaign. What about the majority? There are some outspoken supporters and critics of Francis, in Europe and America, a few in Africa, but none in India, where the whole bunch of them is a silent lot who will suddenly emerge as strong supporters of the winning side at the end. Till then they silently support the conservatives who want a glorified hierarchical church where they can push themselves up constantly to reach the top of the pinnacle. Proof? Have you heard any of the Indian bishops vocally supporting Francis’ thundering call for “Decentralization” “turning the pyramidal Church upside down”, episcopal “ministry means going down one step below the baptized” to serve them imitating Jesus’ foot-washing ministry? He packed all these explosive ideas in his historic Oct.17th speech on Synodality and CCV published several reports and articles on it. But have you heard any Indian bishop openly coming out in support of that speech? There are exceptions. Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay at least spoke out in support of Gay people in India, even made an appeal to Government to get the Supreme court decision reversed even though the issue may not be appealing to majority of orthodox sections in all religions in India. He at least had an opinion on a controversial issue and went public with it, others don’t have one. People will know these emasculated ones soon and give them the kind of treatment they deserve. It can’t be a milder one than what Francis is getting from his critics in and outside the Vatican. CCV here wishes to sing: Centum annos, vivas, vivas! May you live a hundred years! May the dear Lord bless you, kiss you, Happy Birthday Dear Framcis Pappa! james kottoor, editor)
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis entered his 80th year on Thursday amid hopes among his critics that it will be his last — at least as pope.
While Francis remains enormously popular among most rank-and-file Catholics, a small but vocal group of conservatives who have never much cared for his radical agenda have grown increasingly strident in criticizing the pope now that there is little doubt left about his priorities.
They have taken aim at the just-concluded synod on family issues, where the divisive issue of Communion for the civilly remarried took center stage. They have raised alarm at Francis’ call for a more decentralized Church and his loosening of the Vatican’s marriage annulment process. They have winced at his environmental alarmism, wondered what’s in store for Catholic orthodoxy in this Holy Year of Mercy, and blasted as sacrilege the recent screening of nature shots on St. Peter’s Basilica.
The Remnant, a small, traditionalist US newspaper, last week penned an open letter begging Francis to change course or resign, arguing that his papacy was “causing grave harm to the Church.” Organizers say a few thousand people have signed onto the petition.
“You have given many indications of an alarming hostility to the Church’s traditional teaching, discipline and customs, and the faithful who try to defend them, while being preoccupied with social and political questions beyond the competence of the Roman Pontiff,” the newspaper said. “This appalling situation has no parallel in Church history.”
To put it more simply: “Many people in the Vatican want Francis dead,” said Francesca Chaouqui, the woman at the heart of a leaks scandal currently convulsing Francis’ Vatican.
In an interview last weekend with Italy’s La Stampa newspaper, Chaouqui said Francis’ in-house reforms and nominations have emboldened his enemies, many of whom were in the Vatican when Francis was archbishop of Buenos Aires and had a less-than-pleasant relationship with Rome.Some of these cardinals and bishops are openly resisting his reforms while others inside and out of the Vatican are simply waiting out his pontificate under the argument that popes come and go, but the Curia remains.
“Pope Francis is no longer trusted by many conservative Catholics and the number who don’t trust him has grown enormously since the synod,” conservative columnist Damian Thompson wrote in Britain’s Spectator. He said he doesn’t see the dust settling until the next conclave, “which lots of conservative Catholics want to happen as soon as possible.”
The Argentine Jesuit, who has rarely backed down from a fight, seems unfazed and quite possibly emboldened by the criticism. And there is no indication that it poses any real threat to his broad popularity, since the concern has been confined in the public sphere at least to mostly Anglo-Saxon and Italian pundits writing in predictably conservative publications, claiming to speak for a growing number of otherwise anonymous Catholic laity and clergy.
Next Monday will be a good litmus test to show just how far Francis is willing to push the envelope when he gathers the Curia for his traditional Christmas greetings.
It was at that usually jovial affair last year that Francis issued a blistering, public dressing down of his closest collaborators by diagnosing the “15 ailments of the Curia.” He accused the cardinals and bishops of the Vatican bureaucracy of using their careers to grab power and wealth, of living “hypocritical” double lives, and of forgetting — due to “spiritual Alzheimer’s” — that they’re supposed to be joyful men of God.It didn’t go down well.
“Since then, the murmuring of criticism of Jorge Mario Bergoglio has grown, always though anonymously, given the pope’s reaction to anyone who criticizes or irritates him,” Italy’s veteran Vatican analyst and frequent Francis critic Sandro Magister wrote recently. “Many are wondering what he’ll say this time.” In fact, many wonder what the pope says a lot of the time.
Canon lawyer Edward Condon, a strong supporter of Francis who doesn’t count himself among his conservative critics, said the pope’s casual and free way of speaking has nevertheless led to confusion among the faithful about where he stands on certain key issues.
Writing recently in Britain’s Catholic Herald, Condon suggested that was the result of papal interpreters who truncate his remarks and spin them to suit their own agendas, aided by a pope who is uninterested in following his own media coverage and advisers uninterested in advising him how it’s all playing out.
“If the pope isn’t trying to leave himself open to constant contradictory interpretations, what is going on?” Condon asked. “The most obvious answer seems to be that he is simply unaware of the turmoil carrying on outside the Vatican walls.”