View From Rome
16 February 2017
View from Rome Premium
Standing tall in a black cassock and red skullcap, Cardinal Gerhard Müller had been caught in animated conversation with a priest just a few steps away from his flat. Tourists snapped photographs of the pair as the cardinal’s chauffeur waited patiently at the open door of a black BMW, ready to take the Vatican’s doctrinal chief to work.
It was a scene that symbolised the tense debates bubbling away here in Rome. In recent weeks Pope Francis has been targeted with hostile posters and “fake news” while bishops continue to disagree about whether there might be circumstances when remarried divorcees could be readmitted to Communion, something Francis has given the green light to. Cardinal Müller is torn between loyalty to the Pope and his duty as guardian of church doctrine not to give the impression that teaching can change.
On Monday the Pope admitted that “cracks” are appearing between bishops and priests and these rifts can threaten to destroy good fraternal relations between them. He was speaking as the council of nine cardinals, his kitchen cabinet of advisers, gathered in Rome for their latest round of meetings. Before getting down to business the group had declared their “full support” for Francis in light of “recent events”.
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