A memorandum circulating among the Catholic cardinals who will elect the next pope calls the pontificate of Pope Francis a “disaster” and a “catastrophe” while laying out essential tasks for the next successor.
The nearly 2000-word memo, suspected of having been written by Cardinal George Pell but signed with the pseudonym of Demos (“people,” in Greek), declares that historically, “the Pope and the Church of Rome have a unique role in preserving the apostolic tradition, the rule of faith, in ensuring that the Churches continue to teach what Christ and the apostles taught,” a role that has been virtually abandoned since the installation of Pope Francis in March 2013.
The text goes on to criticize the silence of the papacy in the face of public refutations of key elements of the Church’s moral teaching by high-ranking prelates, combined with a heavy-handed crackdown on conservatives and liturgical traditionalists.
It also underscores “grave failures” on the part of Pope Francis to “support human rights in Venezuela, Hong Kong, mainland China, and now in the Russian invasion,” adding that there has been “no public support for the loyal Catholics in China who have been intermittently persecuted for their loyally to the Papacy for more than 70 years.”
Regarding the next papal election, the “first tasks of the new pope will be to restore normality, restore doctrinal clarity in faith and morals, restore a proper respect for the law and ensure that the first criterion for the nomination of bishops is acceptance of the apostolic tradition,” it declares.
It is uncertain how widespread has been the circulation of the memorandum among the college of cardinals, or how many would subscribe to its diagnosis of the situation and its roadmap for the way ahead. What is clear is that a marker has been laid down, perhaps the clearest statement to date of how some prelates view the Francis pontificate.