The “main obstacle” Pope Francis faces in implementing his agenda for the Church comes from “closure, if not hostility” from “a good part of the clergy, at levels both high and low,” stated an article in the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano on the weekend of the end July.
Giulio Cirignano, an Italian priest and Scripture scholar at the Theological Faculty of Central Italy, accused all levels of clergy — priests, bishops, and cardinals — of opposing the Pope’s agenda because of being attached to traditional ways of thinking and practices.
“The main obstacle that stands in the way of the conversion that Pope Francis wants to bring to the Church is constituted, in some measure, by the attitude of a good part of the clergy, at levels high and low … an attitude, at times, of closure if not hostility,” he said.
Cirignano argued that average pew-sitters, not the clergy, are the ones who are recognizing that now is the “favourable moment” for the “conversion” of the Church championed by Pope Francis.
“Most of the faithful have understood, despite everything, the favourable moment, the Kairos, which the Lord is giving to His community. For the most part, they’re celebrating,” he said.
“Despite that, the portion [of the community] closest to little-illuminated pastors is maintained behind an old horizon, the horizon of habitual practices, of language out of fashion, of repetitive thinking without vitality,” he said.
Cirignano outlined several factors that he said explains why much of the clergy is not behind the Pope’s agenda for the Church. This includes, he said, many having a “modest culture level,” an unacceptable image of what it means to be a priest, and theological confusion when it comes to God and religion.
Many clergy who oppose Pope Francis, he said, operate from an old theology, associated with the Counter-Reformation. Such a theology, he said, is “without a soul.” It is responsible for transforming the “impassioned and mysterious adventure of believing” into “religion” that does not reach the level of a real “faith.”