The Populist Wave Hits the Catholic Church

How Pope Francis Triggered a Rebellion

Pope Francis speaks during the Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican, October 2018.  Stefano Rellandini / REUTERS

The Catholic Church faces a crisis of leadership. The latest series of abuse revelations, most notably the exposure of former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick as a sexual predator, revealed a hierarchy that will not (and perhaps cannot) address corruption in its own ranks. Only intense public pressure and the threat of ruinous lawsuits have led it to take action.

Massimo Faggioli (“The Catholic Church’s Biggest Crisis Since the Reformation,” October 11) argues that the sexual abuse crisis has worsened a preexisting divide within Catholicism, one that flows from institutional failures to reform and update the church. By this way of thinking, the far-seeing Pope John XXIII and his progressive allies recognized that the Catholic Church was too conservative, too outdated. The Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) presented an opportunity for deep reform. Sadly, Pope Paul VI, who succeeded John XIII, was weak-kneed, while John Paul II and Benedict XVI were conservative

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