Pope Francis is facing opposition from different sectors within the ranks of the Catholic Church. The opponents are a minority group made up of a few cardinals, bishops, some priests and lay people who are well organized and quite influential.
A religious analyst described the actual situation in an extensive article for The Guardian newspaper with the title “The War against Pope Francis.” Andrew Brown writes that “Pope Francis is one of the most hated men in the world today. Those who hate him most are not atheist, or Protestants, or Muslims, but some of his own followers. Outside the Church he is hugely popular as a figure of almost ostentatious modesty and humility.”
Basically, these people oppose the reforms being carried out in the universal Church, and in particular, in the Roman Curia. They also call into question the orthodoxy of the current Pope’s teaching on morality and family life. The sticking point has been the exhortation Amoris Laetitia, published in 2016, which critics claim contains serious threats to the Catholic doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage. They raise some doubts over the document regarding the possibility of sacramental communion for divorced and remarried couples in certain circumstances.
The papal exhortation on family life is addressing the pastoral issue of ever increasing irregular family situations. The way forward does not necessarily lie in the recourse to timeless laws that apply to all cases. Instead, the exhortation restores the traditional role of moral discernment on a case to case basis upon which decisions on sensitive matters are to be made.
Besides this doctrinal dissention, I agree with some commentators that the reason to the resistance to Pope Francis is his new mind-set and reformist agenda. He laid out his blueprint for the Church in the apostolic exhortation The Joy of the Gospel, issued in 2013. Here, he shares his vision of the Church as a “hospital tent.”
The simple words, the humility and simplicity, the affection of his gestures towards people, starting with the less fortunate and abandoned, and his preference for the geographic and human peripheries, have turned our Pope into an admired world figure.
He is pursuing what he thinks is right, regardless of whether others like him or not. His roadmap is not only his; it belongs to the whole Church. It is the path of Jesus Christ and of the Gospel.