Reuters, published at the following link by the Religion News Service, has reported a story on the fallout from Pope Francis’ less-than-conservative approach to conservative Catholic teachings against homosexuality, divorce and the role of women:
Francis’ popularity with most Catholics, and legions of non-Catholics, has given him the image of a grandfatherly parish priest who understands how difficult it sometimes is to follow Church teachings, particularly those on sexual morality.
Conservatives worry that behind the gentle facade lies a dangerous reformer who is diluting Catholic teaching on moral issues like homosexuality and divorce while focusing on social problems such as climate change and economic inequality.
Interviews with four Vatican officials, including two cardinals and an archbishop, as well as theologians and commentators, highlighted conservative fears that Francis’ words and deeds may eventually rupture the 1.2 billion member Church.
Chatter on conservative blogs regularly accuses the Argentine pontiff of spreading doctrinal confusion and isolating those who see themselves as guardians of the faith.
A response to the Pope’s statements on topics such as Donald Trump:
“Every time this happens I wonder if he realizes how much confusion he is causing,” said a conservative Rome-based cardinal who took part in the conclave that elected Francis three years ago and spoke on the condition of anonymity. He would not say if he voted for Francis because participants in conclaves are sworn to secrecy.
The story takes a look at some of Pope Francis’ major points of departure:
Francis first shocked conservatives just months after his election on March 13, 2013, when he said “Who am I to judge?” about Catholic homosexuals who were at least trying to live by Church rules that they should be chaste.
He caused further upset when he changed Church rules to allow women to take part in a male-only Lenten service, ruled out any campaigns to convert Jews and approved a “common prayer” with Lutherans for joint commemorations for next year’s 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation.
Mainstream media’s embrace of Pope Francis may be part of what has heightened conservative criticism:
It is difficult to quantify Catholic conservatives. Liberals say they are a minority and reject conservative assertions that they are the real “base” of the Church.
“The overwhelming majority of Catholics understand what the pope wants to do, and that is to reach out to everyone,” said another cardinal close to Francis.
Regardless of what their actual numbers might be, conservatives have big megaphones in social media.
“It really has gotten more shrill and intense since Francis took over because he seems to get only positive feedback from the mainstream media. Therefore in the strange logic of (conservative) groups, he is someone who is immediately suspect if only for that,” said the Catholic blogger Arthur Rosman.