François and Benoît endured a difficult relationship during their stay at the Vatican, observers claiming that François’ more liberal views were stifled by Benoît’s traditional sensitivity. In the past, many believed that Francis would have pushed for a more progressive program to make the church more accessible to the faithful of modern times. The recent easing of confession laws while Italy is caught by the coronavirus has been viewed by some as a measure that demonstrated the liberalism of Francis and many hoped that aspects of Catholicism such as celibacy and contraception could be the next on its agenda.
According to author Lynda Telford – writer of “Vatican Women: The Power of Women in a Male World” – Benedict is the main reason for this reluctance to change.
She fears that as a result, the Catholic church will not be able to modernize quickly enough to maintain the commitment of its followers.
Pope Benedict XVI was the head of the church between 2005 and 2013, before retiring due to the mental stress of his role and the deterioration of his health.
This decision was unprecedented as he became the first pope to resign since the 1400s, but his decision saw Pope Francis becoming the new head of the Catholic Church.
Many have argued that while still alive, Pope Benedict XVI is able to exercise unusual authority over those in the upper echelons of the church, which has prevented Pope Francis from fulfilling his modernization mandate.
And this is a major concern for Mrs. Telford.
She said Express.co.uk: “Pope Benedict XVI – who also had his own problems as he did in his role – is largely a traditionalist who essentially brought the church beyond the level of Paul VI.
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“Instead of allowing the changes that John Paul I desperately wanted to make, Pope Benedict XVI has taken over the church, I fear, and now Pope Francis is desperately trying to recover it.
“You just have to. Everything must progress.
“And even now, Catholics in Italy and other Catholic countries are left with the dilemma of doing exactly what the church tells us, or do we just calmly ignore the pieces we don’t like?” “
“Like contraception – many Catholics do not like contraception but they have no alternative. No one can afford to have 12 children these days.
“They have a dilemma to live with, which will eventually lead, in a new generation, people to leave the church unless these issues are resolved and some relaxation of these issues is done, I think . “
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It had been hoped that Liberal Pope Francis would support a decision to allow married men to become priests, thereby allowing more priests to return to the fold, particularly in the Amazon.
But to the surprise of many, Pope Francis – who, according to the Washington Times in February, had initially supported a relaxation of the rules – rejected it, which caused much rejoicing on the part of the traditionalist wing of the ‘church.
Despite his decision, many in the Amazon regions believe that Pope Francis wanted to go ahead with the change, but did not succeed because the church “was not mature enough”.
Atilio Battistu, a Franciscan brother from the state of the Brazilian Para rainforest – which has about 600 Catholic communities – told the newspaper: “I had high hopes about this, even if that would not solve all the problems of the Amazon and the Church.
“I do not believe that Pope Francis was against this decision.
“Now is not the time. The church is not mature enough for that. “