Pope Francis chides his American critics — but who is he talking about?

by | Sep 5, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — Last month, when Pope Francis’ comments appeared accusing some American Catholics of harboring “a very strong, organized, reactionary attitude,” many in the faith and even some political junkies took his meaning. What was less certain was just who, exactly, Francis was referring to.Francis made the comments in a forum with a group of Portuguese Jesuits on his visit to Lisbon in early August, when a priest who had recently been to the U.S. said he encountered many critics of Francis. The pope agreed that some Catholics in the U.S. exhibit “backwardness” and warned that at times “ideologies replace faith.”
Overall, U.S. Catholics skew more liberal than many other religious groups — or, in some cases, Americans in general — on same-sex marriage, contraception, abortion access and other social issues. They also overwhelmingly support Francis: Pew Research has found that the share of Catholics who hold a favorable view of the pope hovers around 83%.
But a vocal subset of conservative Catholics consistently voices consternation about the pope’s views on everything from divorced Catholics to pro-choice politicians receiving Communion to the pontiff’s emphasis on issues other than abortion to his attention to climate change. While not all have singled out the pope himself, they’ve frequently opposed many of his messages.
“Some of this is about the faith, and what is true and how do you share it,” John Carr, founder of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University, told Religion News Servic …

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