domenica 23 luglio 2017

The Times
(Tom Kington) A power struggle between Catholic liberals and conservatives in Rome is becoming more vituperative by the day. Pope Francis’s enemies were in good humour this week after a rousing message from the man many consider a hero of Catholic conservatism — Francis’s predecessor, Pope Benedict.
In a speech that drew cheers from Francis’s foes, the retired pope dramatically described the Church as a boat “almost filled to capsizing”.
The speech was delivered on Benedict’s behalf at the funeral of Cardinal Joachim Meisner, one of four cardinals who challenged Francis on his bid to loosen the rules on who gets to take communion.
“I had the distinct impression when reading this that the former pope was blinking a message in Morse code,” wrote the publisher of One Peter Five, a conservative Catholic website, suggesting Benedict is secretly inspiring rebels from his cottage in the Vatican gardens.
It mattered little that Benedict has been peppering his speeches with sinking boat metaphors since 2005, or that his secretary said it was “stupid” to believe Benedict is challenging Francis.
“The fact is the gloves are off, the Pope’s opponents are emboldened and have lost many inhibitions about criticising him,” said Austen Ivereigh, who has written a biography of the Pope.
Back in February dozens of illegal posters were anonymously pinned up in Rome attacking Pope Francis for ignoring conservative cardinals. Under an unflattering photo of the Pope, they listed his offences, such as restricting the use of the Latin Mass, demanding: “Where’s your mercy?”
The cold war is now turning hot between diehard doctrinal Catholics and the Argentine pope who said, “Who am I to judge?” about homosexuals, and who seems open to female deacons, a move perceived by critics as a slippery slope to women priests.
At the start of July Francis sacked Cardinal Gerhard Müller, until then head of the Vatican’s hardline doctrinal watchdog, who had backed the four cardinals’ challenge to the Pope’s bid to allow communion for some remarried divorcees.
Benedict is rumoured to be inspiring rebels from his cottage in the Vatican
The cardinals, among them the US conservative Raymond Burke, have argued that the initiative, set out in Francis’s 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, clashes with the ruling that divorcees are living in sin if they remarry without an annulment, since their first marriage is still valid in the eyes of the Church. Thanks to the cardinals, the complicated issue has become a war cry for conservatives.
“No power in Heaven or on Earth, neither an angel, nor the pope, nor a council, nor a law of the bishops, has the faculty to change it,” Cardinal Müller said of the rule this year.
Cardinal Müller said that his sacking was “unacceptable”, a claim backed by Marco Tosatti, an Italian Vaticanist who reported that Francis ignored 200 queries about Amoris Laetitia sent by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) run by the cardinal.
“The fact Francis has appointed a priest to take the place of a cardinal at the Congregation means it will be even less important now,” said Riccardo Cascioli, a conservative Catholic journalist. “Catholic principles increasingly count for less at the Vatican.”
The push to admit remarried divorcees to communion dates back to 1993 in Germany, where prelates first proposed the idea. The plans were firmly opposed by the head of the CDF, Joseph Ratzinger, later elected as Pope Benedict XVI.
After Benedict’s resignation as pope in 2013, the same liberal German churchmen threw their weight behind the election of Jorge Bergoglio, who was elected as Pope Francis and has since made their battle his own. Now, with Cardinal Müller gone, Francis’s bid to relax doctrine could be smoother. The result is ever sharper battle lines emerging between the liberals and conservatives who rub shoulders at the Vatican’s press centre daily.
“Many senior church figures say privately that the depth of the crisis in the Church extends far, much farther than it seems superficially,” said a conservative correspondent who declined to be named. Mr Ivereigh disagreed, claiming that Francis’s battle against a “one size fits all approach to doctrine” was being fought by a “very small, but articulate and powerful group of critics, while the opponents of Pope Francis within the college of cardinals are only about 30 of the 190”.
The conservative tumult was mainly coming from the US, not the Vatican, he said. “There are conservative websites in the US, which have wealthy backers and are savvy campaigners. They make a lot of noise, but do not influence papal policy.”
Francis was seen to be ratcheting up tensions with US conservative Catholics even more this month when two close allies of the Pope wrote an article suggesting the Catholic alliance with evangelicals in the US had turned into an “ecumenism of hate”.
Writing in La Civiltà Cattolica, which is vetted by the Vatican, Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa slammed US evangelicals who see the world as a struggle between good and evil — a brand of Christianity they said fuelled the “apocalyptic geopolitics” of Steve Bannon, the Catholic White House adviser. Practitioners, they argued, wanted to link “the state to the Bible with a logic that is no different from the one that inspires Islamic fundamentalism”.
Back in Italy, Mr Cascioli warned that the battle between the conservatives and their pope was just getting started. “I don’t know what the next move is, but it won’t end here,” he said.
Fonte: The Times