Pope Francis celebrates the Mass

Here’s how the Vatican sees the “opposition” to Pope Francis

Official Vatican website Vatican News has echoed the claim of a Spanish-Bolivian theologian who claims that “there is currently a strong opposition group against the Church of Francis: laity, theologians, bishops and cardinals who would like his resignation or his quick disappearance and expect a new conclave to change the course of the current Church”.

Driving the news

“Today in the face of the new image of the Church proposed by Francis, discordant voices and critics strongly opposed to his pontificate have emerged”, denounced the Jesuit Victor Codina in a reflection on the website of the REPAM, the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network.

Codina’s reflection was promptly summarised in an article in the Spanish edition of Vatican News, with the same title: “The opponents of the Church of Francis”.

The intrigue

Codina refrains from naming names, so as not to turn his reflection, he saus, into a “socio-historical investigation” into the opposition to Pope Francis or into a “media show, like a Western film, with good guys and bad”.

The Jesuit leaves it thus to the reader’s imagination the names and surnames of those he says are presently “skinning Francis alive”.

Of greater interest to the theologian are “the theological lines that underlie this systematic opposition to Francis”.

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He says he wants to discover “what the subject of the controversy is”.

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Go deeper

“The criticisms of Francis have two dimensions, one theological and another socio-political, although… many times both lines converge”, writes Codina.

“The theological criticism is based on the conviction that Francis is not a theologian, but that he comes from the [Global] South, from the end of the world, and that this lack of theological professionalism explains his inaccuracies and even his doctrinal errors”, continues the Jesuit.

Codina adds that “this lack of theological professionalism of Francis is contrasted with the academic competence of John Paul II and of course Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI”.

But what the critics of Pope Francis are really bothered by, in Codina’s opinion, “is that his theology starts from reality, from the reality of injustice, poverty and destruction of nature and from the reality of ecclesial clericalism”.

“Obviously, it is not that he is not a theologian, but that his theology is pastoral”, writes the Jesuit Codina of the “theological” criticisms of Pope Francis.

“Francis goes from dogma to kerygma, from theoretical principles to pastoral discernment and to mystagogy. And his theology is not colonial, but from the South and that bothers the North”, Codina claims.

For the record

Responding to the second kind of “social-political” criticisms levelled at Francis, Codina says the Pope’s messages “are in perfect continuity with the prophetic and biblical tradition and the social teaching of the Church”.

“Francis does nothing but update the commandment not to kill and defends the value of human life, from the beginning to the end and repeats Yahweh’s question to Cain today: ‘Where is your brother?'”, the Jesuit writes.

Why it matters

“Undoubtedly there is a convergence between the theological and social criticism of Francis: reactionary ecclesial groups align with powerful economic and political groups, especially from the [Global] North”, Codina concludes.

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The Jesuit accuses the opposition to Pope Francis of “opposition to the Second Vatican Council and tothe evangelical reform of the Church that John XIII wanted to promote”, before situating Pope Francis “in the long line of prophets who wanted to reform the Church” like Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, Hélder Câmara or Pedro Arrupe.

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Cameron Doody

Director and editor at Novena
PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. Lecturer in ethics at Loyola University Maryland, Alcalá de Henares (Spain) campus. Religion journalist with 4 years experience.
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