There is No Catholic Civil War or Papal Coup Coming

David Gibson has a very thorough, well-sourced article for RNS on the widely disseminated reports from reactionary periodicals (or delusional wishful thinking of certain right-wing commentators) that the Church is about to face a civil war or attempted coup to replace Pope Francis:

If you talk to senior churchmen in the U.S. and elsewhere, as well as advisers to the pope, Vatican officials and veteran church observers, these reports are also dismissed as increasingly outlandish and often driven by an anti-Francis agenda that is so hyperbolic that it is obscuring the genuine reservations that some might have about the direction Francis is taking the Catholic Church.

“I certainly don’t see plots. I don’t see all this seething behind the cassocks of prelates all over Rome,” said Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl, one of Francis’ main U.S. advisers. Wuerl is frequently in Rome for meetings and has wide contacts among the global hierarchy, and he said he sees wide support for what Francis is doing, often more so in other countries.

“I think there are a small number” of opponents, Wuerl said, “and they are the ones you see quoted over and over and over again – the same quotes, the same words, in the same publications….

In fact, Francis seems as popular as ever (he just made the cover of the Italian edition of Rolling Stone magazine) and in the U.S. polls show his approval rating among Catholics actually increased to near 90 percent.

That hasn’t stopped conservative Catholic media from regularly declaring that the church “is now in a full-blown civil war” or calling the church “drifting and directionless” and the pope akin to a “pathological” father, as Phil Lawler, editor of the Massachusetts-based Catholic World News site, has done….

“This has all the qualities of what you would call an ‘in-house’ story,” Wuerl said. “But that house is located primarily in the United States and it has some participants in Rome. I think those are the only two places I heard any of this. Everyone else seems to be moving along with the church at this very exciting time.”

The full article, which details the different strands of opposition to Pope Francis, is available here.