“Will Pope Francis resign?” This is the very direct question posed by Le Figaro’s Vaticanist, Jean-Marie Guénois, on his blog “God only knows” of September 19, 2021.
Among the elements that allow us to legitimately wonder about Francis’s possible resignation, the French journalist notes the facts observed during the Pope's trip to Hungary and Slovakia, from September 12-15, 2021:
“The ‘outing’ this summer by Pope Francis, who had colon surgery on July 4, seems a closed episode. While he traveled to Hungary and Slovakia from September 12 to 15 with his personal doctor, he also had a medic standing by on the plane. That was new and indicated that Francis, closely following a medical plan, was still recovering.
“He himself revealed a surgical detail on August 30 in a lively interview with Spanish radio COPE: ‘I have thirty-three fewer centimeters of bowel.’ But especially sent this message - it was his first sentence - to all his friends and especially to his opponents: ‘I am still alive!’”
According to Jean-Marie Guénois, the real objective of this interview “was to demonstrate that he is not giving up his office,…because Pope Francis’ mission has not yet been accomplished in his eyes, he who makes it his duty to implement ‘irrevocably’ the reforms never completed, according to him, and voted by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).”
“There is still too much to do to leave. Especially regarding ‘the reform of the reform,’ as I call it, namely the major ambition of the pontificate. If adopted, it would profoundly change the face of the Catholic Church.”
“What is it about? After having changed the moral approach of the Church on sexual questions by relativizing their importance in the eyes of the world - Pope Francis has won this chapter - he intends to change the governance of the Church. From a strict and centralized hierarchy, he wants to transform it into a participative and decentralized management.”
“And this at all levels, from the parish to the Vatican, including the episcopal conferences. Participation which is however neither democratic nor parliamentary, the pope, the cardinals, and the bishops will remain the decision makers. We have a living example of this with Francis who alone decides the great ecclesial questions on everything in the Vatican.”
“This is the meaning of the Synod on Synodality that the Pope is launching from Rome on October 9 and 10 and which will occupy the Church until October 2023 for its concluding session. It will take time to publish the results, which could push into December 2023, or even spring 2024.
“Pope Francis, if God allow him to continue to live, will then be 87 years old. The work of the reform will then be finished, in terms of the appointment of the majority of cardinals—electors of his successor and all sharing his vision of the Church—and in terms of the major shift towards a synodal, and therefore participatory, Catholic Church, as well as a new approach on moral questions, without forgetting the internal reform of the Curia which will arrive shortly.”
For its part, the Argentinian site The Wanderer on September 30 does not hesitate to speak of “the failure of the new ‘outgoing’ Church,” resulting from the Council, nor to declare bluntly that Francis’ pontificate “is already over and that he has failed.”
The Wanderer article is based on the comments of Fr. Santiago Martín [Spanish priest, founder of the International Franciscan Association of Mary. Ed.], in a recent video: “Santiago Martín, this priest, who is not a traditionalist, concludes: ‘The new Church has failed.’”
“In fact, after the Second Vatican Council, the Church, already in decline, adopted the strategy of adapting to the world in order to remain at the center of attention and not lose the faithful, and this strategy has been turned out to be a frightening mistake that has led to the present situation of extinction.”
“There is no need for sociological studies or expensive surveys conducted by international consultants. Just visit churches on Sundays - imagine weekdays! - to understand that they are empty. The same is happening all over Europe and Argentina. The few people who were still going there before the pandemic have already stopped doing so because of the bishops’ mismanagement of the quarantines decreed by the governments.”
And this dramatic situation is unfortunately accentuated by the ostrich policy adopted by the current hierarchy: “the problem is aggravated because the hierarchy of the Church, starting with the sovereign pontiff, does not recognize the seriousness of the terminal illness and proposes to increase the doses of the same drug which has already demonstrated its harmful effect.”
“I remember, to give just one example among many, what he said to the Slovak Jesuits [on September 12 at the nunciature in Bratislava. Ed.]: ‘This is why today we are going back in time: to seek safety. It scares us to celebrate in front of God's people who look us in the face and tell us the truth.’”
“It frightens us to go forward in pastoral experiences. I think of the work done during the Synod on the Family to make people understand that couples in a second marriage are not already condemned to hell. We are afraid to accompany people with sexual diversity.…That’s the evil of the moment.”
The Wanderer emphasizes: “Pope Bergoglio insists on the fact that adultery is no longer a sin and on the ‘accompaniment’ of people showing sexual diversity, as signs of this ‘new outgoing Church’ which has proved to be a complete failure.”
And to conclude: “Bergoglio’s pontificate has already ended and has failed. We cannot persist on this path. The problem is what will come after him. It is clear that the crisis in the Church cannot be resolved by pleasing the world and bringing crowds together on World Youth Day (WYD) or papal journeys. The naive hopes of the 1980s and 1990s have been laid to rest.”