A conservative backlash in the Vatican is attempting to thwart Pope Francis' efforts to press for "radical change" in Roman Catholic Church teachings, according to a Washington Post report.
"Francis had been backing a more inclusive era, giving space to progressive voices on divorced Catholics as well as gays and lesbians," reporter Anthony Fiola writes.
"Yet as he upends church convention, Francis also is grappling with a conservative backlash to the liberal momentum building inside the church," Fiola reports.
Quoting anonymous "insiders," which he says includes "seven senior church officials," Fiola ominously writes that "[t]he 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."
Fiola asserts that Pope Francis is determined to make seismic changes to traditional Church teachings on human sexuality and marriage. But he has decided to not simply come out and do that, instead choosing a different tactic.
"Rather than stake out clear stances, the pope is more subtly, often implicitly, backing liberal church leaders who are pressing for radical change, while dramatically opening the parameters of the debate over how far reforms can go," he writes.
"Since then, liberals have tested the boundaries of their new freedom, with one Belgian bishop going as far as openly calling for the Catholic Church to formally recognize same-sex couples."
Fiola quotes a "conservative and senior Vatican official" who commented "on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely" as saying:
"We have a serious issue right now, a very alarming situation where Catholic priests and bishops are saying and doing things that are against what the church teaches, talking about same-sex unions, about Communion for those who are living in adultery."
"And yet the pope does nothing to silence them. So the inference is that this is what the pope wants."
This statement echoes what conservative Catholics have been saying since the beginning of Francis' pontificate: that the media is taking "confusing" statements made by him and turning them into something else.
Fiola quotes conservative Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna, Italy, who said:
"The pope has never said that divorced and remarried Catholics should be able to take Holy Communion, and yet, his words are being twisted to give them false meaning."
Fiola asserts that this argument spotlights a key weapon conservatives are employing as they attempt to prevent the Pope from enacting his radical reforms.
"In conservative circles, the word 'confusion' also has become a euphemism for censuring the papacy without mentioning the pope," he writes.
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