From the outside it was not clear how much the coexistence between two Popes: one in office and the other emeritus, however unusual, guaranteed balance to the Church. A few days from death of Benedict XVIpontiff who resigned, with no small stir, in 2013, whose baton was taken up by the Argentine Jorge Bergoglioor Pope francesco, the creeping tensions around the papal throne explode and are now impossible to hide. Among the ferocious thrusts of the father Georg Ganswein addressed to Francesco, the two currents: reactionary and progressive which by now collide as if it were a derby and the figure of Timothy Broglio, as head of the US bishops (among the ranks of traditionalists), who seized the opportunity to “recommend” Bergoglio’s resignation, the atmosphere in the Vatican is not exactly one of brotherhood.
Pope Francis in the crosshairs of traditionalists
Pope Ratzinger softened the oppositions, now the two souls of the Curia, that of the conservatives and the more liberal and Bergoglian one, are literally unleashing themselves.
The first heavy public thrust against Francis comes precisely from Benedict XVI’s right-hand man who in his book “Nothing but the truth. My life alongside Benedict XVI”, Ganswein – providing his own version of events – accuses the Argentine Pope of substantially marginalizing him:
“You remain prefect, but from tomorrow you won’t go back to work”. In a modest way I replied: “I can’t understand it, I don’t accept it humanly, but I adapt only in obedience”. And he replied: “My personal experience is that ‘accepting in obedience’ is a good thing”. I went back to the Monastery and told it to Benedetto, who commented ironically: “It seems that Pope Francis no longer trusts me and wants you to be my guardian!”.
Broadside that somehow “opened the dance”.
“There are tensions between progressives and conservatives. I saw the difficulty, the fact that he doesn’t celebrate, they are all elements of normal pastoral work that are missing”, Broglio commented, emphasizing the pontiff’s physical problems.
Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, also charged with further tension what now seems more like a powder keg about to explode than a sacred place, accusing Francis of “imprudence” for having limited Latin. Criticisms also on the Synod, the planetary consultation process wanted by Francis on all issues, from the role of the laity to female priesthood, from gay couples to the parish system:
“Are we a party or an NGO that can change its mind on the basis of a popular consultation?”.
Broglio: pressing for resignation
The one who pressed the hardest, in the long line of enemies of Bergoglio, is certainly the bishop Timothy Broglio which he had in any case for everyone in an interview with Repubblica: from Father Georg (whom he says he still considers a friend) to the crowds asking for the sanctification of Ratzinger.
The stars and stripes bishop takes it away, emphasizing that “it is always Francis who decides”, however he never misses an opportunity to emphasize his precarious health conditions, suggesting – obviously taking care not to say it directly – that it could be time to retire:
“Perhaps the possibility of a withdraw it would be more feasible now that the Pope emeritus is gone, but this is obviously pure speculation because I have no idea what Pope Francis thinks about it”.
Subsequently holds back on the street’s request to sanctify Benedict XVI:CopyAMP code.
“I believe that in the future the process will certainly begin. But I also think and, if I dare, I believe Pope Benedict would agree with me, that these things ripen with time. I have no doubt that Joseph Ratzinger is in heaven but it seems to me that the Church has its times, its methods for carrying out a normal process, giving time to study the case, and also to see if there are miracles to be attributed to her intercession. It seems to me a bit early for all of this”.
It’s not even missing an “ear-pull” at Gänsweinafter his open snub against Bergoglio:
“If we have criticisms to make of the Holy Father, we must not make them through the mass media but directly to him personally. And I consider Monsignor Gänswein as a friend”.
In short, the 71-year-old American Broglio has confirmed the internal tensions between conservatives and progressives in favor of the incumbent Pope:
“I don’t like these terms very much but yes, there are tensions between, let’s say, progressives and conservatives. Perhaps they have always been there but they seem much more evident to me now. We see some German bishops moving forward with the synodal path, and with this I certainly I can’t agree, it would be a Source of tension. But there are also criticisms from the other side, which can also be exaggerated. Yes, it must be recognized that there are tensions”.
But what does Francesco want to do?
Given that Bergoglio, for years already, has delivered to the Secretariat of State a his letter of resignation to be used in case of physical impediment, his withdrawal at the moment does not seem at all imminent.
Between new appointments and the launch of the reform of the diocese of Rome where the role of the Pope, who is the bishop of the city, emerges even more strengthened, retirement seems far away. Thanks to the wheelchair and physiotherapy he no longer has the pains that in the past had led him to sometimes give up celebrating mass. The pontiff is also preparing to face a trip to Africa at the end of January.
And with regard to his decisions, which seem inadmissible to the more conservative fringes (such as the downsizing of the Latin mass), he sticks to it. Just like when, a couple of years ago, has cleared breastfeeding for mothers with newborns present at liturgical functions.
In short, the impression is an iron will to stay on the field.