Professor Roberto de Mattei recently wrote about the recent synod's "arduous battle" of conservatives versus liberals, and Cardinal Burke observed Pope Francis has "done a lot of harm" by not saying "openly what his position is" during the synod. After over a year and a half, conservatives are increasingly fighting back against the obvious shift under the current papacy.
Ross Douthat, the lone conservative columnist at the New York Times, had a piece published in Sunday's paper entitled "The Pope and the Precipice." Its conclusion:
Francis is charismatic, popular, widely beloved. He has, until this point, faced strong criticism only from the church’s traditionalist fringe, and managed to unite most Catholics in admiration for his ministry. There are ways that he can shape the church without calling doctrine into question, and avenues he can explore (annulment reform, in particular) that would bring more people back to the sacraments without a crisis. He can be, as he clearly wishes to be, a progressive pope, a pope of social justice — and he does not have to break the church to do it.
But if he seems to be choosing the more dangerous path — if he moves to reassign potential critics in the hierarchy, if he seems to be stacking the next synod’s ranks with supporters of a sweeping change — then conservative Catholics will need a cleareyed understanding of the situation.
They can certainly persist in the belief that God protects the church from self-contradiction. But they might want to consider the possibility that they have a role to play, and that this pope may be preserved from error only if the church itself resists him.
Imagine the "fringe" benefits that could have been accomplished had conservatives voiced greater opposition during the Second Vatican Council's reforms, to which the synod has been compared.