ROME ( Associated Press) — Pope Francis says traditionalist Catholics, especially in the United States, are “gagging” reforms to modernize the Church, but he insists there is no turning back.
Francis told a meeting of Jesuit magazine editors, in remarks published Tuesday, that he was convinced some Catholics never accepted Vatican II. Those 1960s gatherings led to the service of Mass in local languages instead of Latin and revolutionized the Church’s relationships with people of other faiths, among other changes.
“The number of groups of ‘restorers’ – there are many in the United States, for example – is staggering,” the pope told editors, according to excerpts reproduced in the Spanish edition of the Jesuit newspaper La Civilta Cattolica.
“Restorationism has come to muzzle the Council,” he assured. He added that some priests of his acquaintance remember the Council of Trent in the 16th century more than Vatican II in the 20th century.
Traditionalists are among the fiercest critics of Francis, whom they accuse of being a heretic over reforms to accommodate divorced and civilly remarried Catholics or gay Catholics. Francis has shown increasing intransigence toward restorationists, with restrictions on the service of the Latin Mass and measures in dioceses and religious orders that have resisted his reforms.
“It is also true that a Council takes a century to take root. So we still have 40 years to go before it takes hold!” he told editors.
With regard to the Church in Germany, Francis warned that he still had the offer to resign from Cologne’s Archbishop, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, who has faced strong criticism for his handling of the sexual abuse scandal.
Francis gave Woelki several months of “rest” in September, but has yet to figure out his future. The head of the German bishops’ conference has asked him to make a resolution.
“When the situation was very turbulent, I asked the archbishop to leave for six months, so that things could calm down and I could see clearly,” the pope said. “Because when the waters are rough, you can’t see clearly. When he came back, I asked him to write a resignation letter. He did and he gave it to me. Additionally, he wrote a letter of apology to the diocese. I left him in his position to see what would happen, but I have his resignation in hand”.