According to a Washington Post Sunday op-ed, the “sense of possibility” that greeted the appointment of Pope Francis “has diminished, replaced by greater discontent,” as he celebrates the tenth anniversary of his election Monday.
“Conservative opposition has intensified,” the op-ed continued. “Just as important, Francis has also faced criticism from the church’s left, a flank led by Germany, where some leaders say he hasn’t gone far enough in remaking an institution in crisis.”
The pope’s endless off-the-cuff comments and in-flight interviews have blurred the line between official magisterial declarations and mere unreflective papal spitballing, leaving many wondering how seriously they are to take the pope’s verbal musings.
Another serious point of contention has been the pope’s politics in appointing cardinals. Preaching diversity, he has instead homogenized the college of cardinals, only elevating prelates who share his particular pastoral proclivities.
Francis also has proven to be the most autocratic of any pope in recent history. He has notably stripped local bishops of their autonomous decision-making power, for example in allowing the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass, recentralizing all authority in Rome.
As an anti-intellectual, Pope Francis has downplayed the importance of doctrine and theological insight, insisting instead on the importance of pastoral leadership. As the Washington Post declared, Francis has made “pillars out of issues such as migration and the environment,” in which he overlaps with the United Nations and other multinational organizations.
In recent years, Francis has angered both progressives and conservatives by his unwillingness to call out China for its egregious violations of human rights. Indeed, during his ten years as pope, Francis has carefully avoided doing or saying anything that could be construed as criticism of Chinese leadership, including the CCP’s crackdown on Christian churches, its brutal suppression of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, and its horrific genocide of Muslim Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region.