Up to 30% of the global Church is against Pope Francis, and a “hard core” of cardinals is “already trying to influence the next conclave” that will elect his successor, a Vatican expert has denounced.

– “It makes no sense to downplay” the opposition to Bergoglio

Marco Politi, a former Vatican correspondent for the Italian newspaper La Repubblica and now columnist for Il Fatto Quotidiano, spoke to Cologne archdiocesan media outlet Domradio May 13 to warn that “it makes no sense to downplay” the opposition to the present Pope, “as Francis fans keep doing when they speak of a small, loud minority”.

Those Catholics opposed to the Pope are “not a minority”, Politi denounced, estimating that “30 percent of the clergy, the committed laity and bishops of the universal Church” is opposed to the direction Francis is taking the Church and holding fast instead to “a very strong conservative, traditionalist line”.

As proof for his claim, the journalist – author of the book Pope Francis Among the Wolves: The Inside Story of a Revolution – cited the fact that 30% of Catholics in Italy voted for the populist, far-right, xenophobic Lega party at last year’s European elections, and that Francis has been slipping in approval ratings in recent years, down from 88% in Italy at the beginning of his pontificate to 66% last year.

“There is a part of the Church that disagrees with Francis and is already trying to influence the next conclave”, Politi cautioned.

The Vaticanist noted that he is hardly alone in that assessment, given that Jesuit Superior General Arturo Sosa warned in August last year of a plot against Francis and other senior Church figures like German cardinal Walter Kasper have also denounced similar machinations.

“There are people who would like Pope Francis to no longer be in his place”, Politi decried, warning that it part of the papal dissenters’ “strategy… to create moods and majorities for the next papal election and to put pressure on the public line of the pontificate” of Pope Bergoglio.

– “There have not been so many attacks on a pope for a long time”

According to Politi, the latest conservative “appeal” against coronavirus lockdown measures around the world – orchestrated by Francis critic Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò and signed by papal opponents cardinals Gerhard Müller and Joseph Zen, among others – should be read in the key of manoeuvres designed to destabilise the current pontificate.

“The tone of this call is very aggressive and is reminiscent of ‘alt-rights’ in the United States”, the journalist deplored.

He went on to say that the signatories to the appeal “take the corona pandemic as an opportunity to start a cultural war again: the right Church from their point of view is against the modern world [and] against governments and that is not the Church of Francis”.

Politi also said it was “interesting” to note the “vehemence” with which the “appeal” signatories emphasise the importance of the Mass, with it being “a scandal” and “a sign of tyranny” for them that Catholics can’t attend services “for six or seven weeks”.

“But strangely enough, the same people don’t care about the regions in the Amazon where Christians can only celebrate Holy Mass once a year because there aren’t enough priests”, Politi ironised.

He added that petitioners “reject the idea of ​​allowing experienced, married men to make the Eucharist possible for the people there” in the Amazon, and for that reason, “in this context worship services are obviously not important” to them.

At any rate, Politi denounced an “escalation” of “aggressive” attacks on Pope Francis from a “hard core” of traditionalists opposed to his reforms and also to the modern world and warned Bergoglio’s authority “is being undermined”.

“There have not been so many attacks on a pope from the clergy and the bishops for a long time”, the journalist lamented.

More stories on Novena on the opposition to Pope Francis:

Conservative coronavirus “appeal” organisers leaked thousands of personal email addresses, messages

Cardinal Müller cries persecution after blowback from COVID-19 conspiracy

German Bishops take down Cardinal Müller over coronavirus conspiracy rant

German vicar general lashes out at cardinals over “outrageous right-wing populist rhetoric” in COVID-19 conspiracy theory

Prospect of one “world government” after COVID-19 divides Catholic conservatives, progressives


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.