Holy Smoke

Why Catholics are torn between the Church of Benedict and the Church of Francis

16 min listen

In This Episode

The fallout from the death of Benedict XVI has been unexpectedly dramatic. Pope Francis’s behaviour at his predecessor’s Requiem on Thursday struck many observers as graceless. The liberal Catholic journalist Robert Mickens, a long-time opponent of many of Benedict’s policies, wrote that Francis ‘looked unpleasant throughout the liturgy and, surprisingly (shockingly, some would say), he did not attend the interment of Benedict’s body in the crypt after the Mass. The Vatican did not observe a single day of mourning… There are many of us who were never particularly enamoured of Joseph Ratzinger. But the man was the Bishop of Rome for nearly eight years. And for that alone, he deserved better than this.’

In this episode of Holy Smoke I look at the disastrous rupture between the pontificates. The most active Catholics (as opposed to ordinary Mass-goers) are now so divided between the competing theological visions of the two popes that one can speak metaphorically of the ‘Church of Benedict’ and the ‘Church of Francis’. It’s a complicated business, but do not assume that because Francis has survived the Pope Emeritus he now has the upper hand.

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