12 May 2016
It’s inside the Vatican, and among a number of fellow bishops, that Francis faces his biggest critics, says Christopher Lamb
The stalling of the release of an audit into the financial affairs of the Holy See is another sign of challenges to Pope Francis’ efforts to reorganise the Vatican
He is feted by world leaders, adored by the crowds and praised by journalists. Even though his popularity took a fall this week, according to YouGov’s 2016 list of world leaders, Pope Francis remains the most popular pope of modern times.
But it’s inside the Vatican, and among a number of fellow bishops, that Francis faces his biggest critics, with many of them deeply opposed to his project of reform and renewal. For a long time this dissent largely took the form of muttering from a small group of hardliners. Now, more than three years into his papacy, his opponents are more numerous and increasingly happy to break cover.
Broadly speaking, the opposition can be broken down into three categories. First are the mid-ranking Vatican officials, suspicious of a Pope they see as impulsive and who has attacked them for “diseases” such as gossip and operating cliques. Many in this group are happy to bide their time until a new man in white occupies the throne of St Peter and matters return to normal. But it means that many of them are disaffected and try to block a Pope who wants to overhaul his central administration.
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