Speed Reads

Pope and Change

Pope Francis is evidently facing a mounting conservative rebellion at the Vatican

Pope Francis isn't exactly a doctrinal liberal in the Catholic Church, but he has opened up discussion on a whole range of theological issues, changed the tone of the global Catholic Church, and taken on some powerful and entrenched interests inside the Vatican. That has left the pope "grappling with a conservative backlash to the liberal momentum building inside the church," says Anthony Faiola at The Washington Post, citing "more than a dozen interviews, including with seven senior church officials."

The rebellion has taken several forms, from openly questioning Pope Francis' declarations and pronouncements to leaking information about his allies and fellow reformers. There has also sprung up a cottage industry of books, DVDs, and websites promoting Francis dissenters. "At least we aren't poisoning each other's chalices anymore," Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, a liberal British Dominican friar and ally of the pope, told The Washington Post. Radcliffe, recently appointed to an influential Vatican post, added that he is comfortable with open debate and critical dissent inside the Catholic Church, but that he is "afraid" of "some of what we're seeing."

All in all, Faiola says, Pope Francis "has left the hierarchy more polarized over the direction of the church than at any point since the great papal reformers of the 1960s." Of course, there were essentially only two popes between the last of those papal reformers, Pope Paul VI, and Pope Francis: Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, who was John Paul II's doctrinal right hand (Pope John Paul I died 33 days after his election). So perhaps any changes at the Vatican were bound to be met with resistance. For more on the Vatican intrigue, read the entire article at The Washington Post.