Tuesday, September 08, 2015

To Conservative Roman Catholics, “Pope Francis” is Like the Borgia Popes

Conservative Roman Catholics will take some comfort in this. To them, “Pope Francis” is like the Borgia popes – for all the havoc they caused, they are issuing no “teaching”. In fact, that is the message:

Conservative dissent is brewing inside the Vatican

In front of the camera, Burke said he would “resist” liberal changes — and seemed to caution Francis about the limits of his authority. “One must be very attentive regarding the power of the pope,” Burke told the French news crew.

Papal power, Burke warned, “is not absolute.” He added, “The pope does not have the power to change teaching [or] doctrine.”

And yet, many Roman Catholics are not so sure as Burke seems to be. The thought is that the door is still open to havoc; this pope can still move ahead in some “unauthorized” direction, and the “conservatives”" want to help out by taking matters into their own hands:

Burke’s words belied a growing sense of alarm among strict conservatives, exposing what is fast emerging as a culture war over Francis’s papacy and the powerful hierarchy that governs the Roman Catholic Church. …

On Sunday, he called for “every” Catholic parish in Europe to offer shelter to one refugee family from the thousands of asylum-seekers risking all to escape war-torn Syria and other pockets of conflict and poverty.

Yet as he upends church convention, Francis also is grappling with a conservative backlash to the liberal momentum building inside the church. In more than a dozen interviews, including with seven senior church officials, insiders say the change has left the hierarchy more polarized over the direction of the church than at any point since the great papal reformers of the 1960s.

The conservative rebellion is taking on many guises, in public comments, yes, but also in the rising popularity of conservative Catholic Web sites promoting Francis dissenters; books and promotional materials backed by conservative clerics seeking to counter the liberal trend; and leaks to the news media, aimed at Vatican reformers.

In his recent comments, Burke was also merely stating fact. Despite the vast powers of the pope, church doctrine serves as a kind of constitution. And for liberal reformers, the bruising theological pushback by conservatives is complicating efforts to translate the pope’s transformative style into tangible changes.

In reality, there is nothing new here. The liberals, as usual, want “change”. The conservatives, despite many centuries-worth of convoluted “developments” cry semper eadem. It's just one big happy family, with happy, happy, joy, joy, unity.

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