Pope defended by Jesuit Leader

Attacks against pope aim to influence next conclave

Thursday, September 19th, 2019

Attacks against Pope Francis are “a fight between those who want the church dreamed of by the Second Vatican Council and those who do not want this,” says the Superior General of the Jesuits.

Commenting on various issues where the Pope is currently under attack from his critics, Arturo Sosa SJ says there is no doubt there’s a political fight going on in the church.

This isn’t just against Francis and his convictions. He won’t change and his critics know it, Sosa says. “In reality, these [attacks] are a way to influence the election of the next pope.”

As Francis is 82, Sosa says his critics are aiming at the succession.

They “…know that it takes a long time, more than 50 years, to really implement the Second Vatican Council.”

One of the points of friction is clericalism – that is, a way of understanding the exercise of power in the church. “Francis is fighting against clericalism and this exercise of power”. He “proposes a synodal church,” which encourages greater collegiality and participation in decision making,” Sosa says.

“Pope Francis is a son of the Second Vatican Council.”

As he is a responsible son, Sosa says “Francis puts all his energy and capacity to incarnate it and to make a reality all that this event has dreamed for the church, and it seems to me that this is a great contribution to the church.”

Francis believes the church shows “true reform” the “closer it comes to the design of the Second Vatican Council.” There have always been those who support and those who resist the Council’s reforms, Sosa notes. But the 50 years since the Council “is not so much” in terms of implementing its reforms in the church, he says.

Unlike those who criticised Francis’s first two synods and the upcoming one on the Amazon, Sosa believes Francis’s synodal process “creates unity.” He said he witnessed this at the synod on young people, and he is now seeing it also in the process of preparation for the synod on the Amazon region.

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There’s no doubt that Pope Francis is doing his very best to implement the decisions of the historic VATICAN II Council, in the wake of the reforms that were brought into the Roman Catholic Church – initially by Pope John XXIII, whose mantle Pope Francis later on inherited.

One can easily imagine the co-ordination of vision that would have been shared by these 2 charismatic Popes, whose eirenic senior leadership in the Church has been increasingly criticised by the more conservative cardinals and bishops at the Vatican – in protest against their successively innovative and sometimes rigorous instigation of reforms both at home and abroad in the Roman Catholic Church.

Francis’ enunciation of the charism of ‘Mercy’ as the foundation of Christ’s incarnate ministry – rather than the ‘Judgement’ that some might have preferred – has seen a growing protest movement among a small faction of the Vatican prelates. It is this culture of protest that the subject of this article – the leader of the Jesuit Order to which Francis belongs – criticises in his press release.

The fact that the detractors of Pope Francis might be concentrating on the prospect of who will become his successor as Supreme Pontiff, indicates the fact that, while he is in office, Pope Francis is definitely ‘in charge’ and will pursue what he sees to be his path of re-construction and renewal of The Church in the way of Vatican II, which is still obviously his vision for the immediate future.

In my part of the Church Catholic (Anglicanism) I pray for the health and well-being of Pope Francis, believing that he is God’s choice at this historic point in the Roman Catholic Church; acknowledging the urgent need for Christian unity and solidarity in the propagation of the Good News of the Gospel outreach to ALL people.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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