The Plot to Bring down Pope Francis
By Barbie Latza Nadeau
September 7, 2018
Not long after Pope Francis took office in March 2013, he ran into a wall. But it wasn’t the ancient Roman brickwork built around Vatican City. It was stronger. And it came from deep within the very church he was elected to lead. Every time he tried to introduce reforms, the wall was there. His foes were so strong he recently equated reforming the Catholic Church with “cleaning the Sphinx of Egypt with a toothbrush.”
Still, Francis persevered, relying on his immediate popularity and innate charm, and soon the outside world began to look at the Catholic Church in a new, positive light under his guidance. Suddenly, it it was cool to be Catholic.
But the traditional conservatives within the church didn’t want to be cool, and while the new pope was hardly progressive by secular standards (he is still Catholic, after all), they preferred the cold church, the one that protected them from the outside world behind layers of immovable doctrine.
While Francis reached far into the margins to minister to the poor and disenfranchised, the conservatives preferred punishing the sinners and adhering to archaic rules that have little place in the modern world, even if it meant sacrificing the flock.
Francis toyed with allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to take communion, he made it OK to forgive abortion to repentant women, and he was nice to gays. And the conservatives bristled.
It took five long years, but the conservative powers of the Catholic Church have finally begun to turn around the supertanker of support for the pope they seem to hate. And they did it using the one sin the whole church is guilty of: clerical sex abuse.
Francis cannot be blamed for mishandling the bulk of the church’s endemic sex abuse scandals, many of which have played out in dioceses that were run by those who would like to see him resign. There has been no major sex abuse scandal in his native Argentina—at least not yet—so his naysayers have had to pick a softer target.