Since his election in March 2013, Pope Francis has been saying things that make conservative Roman Catholics in the United States uneasy.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, the former archbishop of St. Louis, said recently the Church under Francis' leadership is like "a ship without a rudder," Religion News Service reported
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"The conservatives had it all their way for about 30 years, and now the shoe might be on the other foot,'' the Rev. Paul Sullins told USA Today
. Sullins is a sociology professor at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and says conservatives likely feel on the outside now, "which is exactly how the progressives used to feel.''
The terms liberal, conservative, progressive and traditionalist don't have the same meanings as they do in American politics. A conservative in the Church would be anti-abortion, but also anti-death penalty because both positions are taught by Catholic doctrine.
Francis has held fast on doctrines opposing abortion, same-sex marriage, and divorced-and-remarried couples receiving the Eucharist. But he also has said gay people should not be marginalized, asking "Who am I to judge?"
Some conservatives say he is being misinterpreted when he makes off-hand statements that actually are not new. His recent assertion that the Big Bang theory and evolution are not incompatible with the existence of God goes back to Pope Pius XII in 1951.
"A lot of mainstream media reporting is based on what people hope Pope Francis is saying, instead of what he is actually saying,'' University of Notre Dame alum Arina Grossu told USA Today.
Sullins, though, said many conservatives fear the Pope has abandoned them.
"Their feeling is, 'We're out here on the front lines in the culture wars — fighting abortion, gay marriage," he said. "It seemed Benedict had our back, and Francis doesn't.''
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