19 September 2018, The Tablet

Francis under fire

Reforming the Church

Francis under fire

Pope Francis celebrates Mass last Saturday on the waterfront in Palermo


We are witnessing something quite remarkable in the modern history of the papacy. Consider what has transpired in the five-and-a-half years since Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope, taking the name Francis.

Four cardinals (two now deceased) submitted a dubia (a quest for clarification on a matter of doctrine), implicitly challenging the Pope’s orthodoxy; the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Robert Sarah, openly contravened the stated wishes of the Pope regarding liturgical reform, and was chastised for it by Francis in public; a retired senior papal diplomat, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, publicly accused the Pope of complicity in the cover-up of (now) Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s harassment of seminarians and priests, and called for his resignation; and several bishops spoke of the “integrity” of Viganò – without any endorsement of the Pope’s probity – and called for an investigation of the role of the Vatican – including the Pope – in the covering-up of clerical sexual abuse.

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