Pope Francis' demotion of an outspoken cardinal appears to have squashed "conservative backlash" against what some call the Pope's softening stance on some social issues.
Cardinal Raymond Burke recently said the Catholic Church under Francis' direction is like "a ship without a rudder."
Burke, an American who held a powerful position in the Vatican, was demoted to a mostly ceremonial role
following his remarks.
Francis' decision to switch Burke's role within the church has silenced many of the other American bishops who were criticizing the Pope's policies and views toward issues like homosexuality, capitalism, and divorce, reports Fox News.
During a meeting last month called the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Francis met with bishops from across the world and asked for their input on social issues and other topics that matter within the Church.
Many bishops were already unhappy with the direction in which Francis was taking the Church, and those feelings reached a boiling point, according to the Fox News report, when Francis appointed the so-called progressive leader of the church — German Cardinal Walter Kasper — to set the meeting's agenda.
A document released from the synod proposed several shifts from traditional Catholic beliefs — such as allowing divorced and remarried couples to receive Holy Communion, and instructing pastors to avoid discriminatory language.
The document was highly upsetting to many conservatives within the Church's hierarchy, and they let their feelings be known publicly. After Burke's comments, he was demoted from the prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the highest court in the Vatican, to the role of patron to the sovereign military order of Malta.
One source told Fox News the synod resulted in "a tsunami of conservative backlash" against the Pope.
John Allen, the author of an upcoming book on Pope Francis, told Fox a rift now exists between Francis and several conservatives in the Church.
"There is growing ambivalence to Pope Francis in conservative Catholic circles, especially in the States," Allen said. "One [reason] is that being pro-life is the litmus test for Catholic orthodoxy that is stronger than any other place in the world, because debates over gay marriage and abortion are live here, while they have been settled elsewhere. The perception is that the Pope is soft on these issues — true or not, the perception is out there."
Some Vatican insiders who are opposed to the Pope's views vented their frustration before Burke was demoted.
"Pope Francis is fond of creating a mess," Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Diocese of Providence wrote in a blog post.
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said he was "disturbed" by what took place at the synod.
"I was very disturbed by what happened," Chaput said in a Religion News Service story.
"I think confusion is of the devil, and I think the public image that came across was one of confusion."
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