Many cite Benedict as one of the key traditionalists within the Catholic church is pushing against Francis’ wish to allow sweeping changes at the Vatican in order to appeal to today’s worshippers. Expert Lynda Telford, author of ‘Women in the Vatican: Female Power in a Male World’, argues that Francis has wanted to continue the late Pope John Paul II’s work in ensuring acts such as contraception can be used within the church without prejudice. However, she fears that Benedict – who stood down as pope in a historic move in 2013 – is leading a charge of angry traditionalists within the Vatican who do not want to see such modern ideals as part of a new Catholicism mandate.
She explained that John Paul II had been determined to instigate change, especially on the topic of contraception, after he saw firsthand the issues surrounding sex and poverty.
John Paul II’s brother, Ms Telford said, had 12 children – but he and the infants’ mother struggled to feed them, such was the condition of their life.
Had contraception been allowed, John Paul II’s brother may not have lived through such abject poverty, she claimed.
But when asked whether Francis would be able to bring about those liberal alterations to secure his legacy as head of the Vatican, Ms Telford told Express.co.uk she felt that as long as Benedict was alive and in the church, no such moves would ever be made.
She said: ”I’m afraid that Pope Benedict is rather an opponent of any change.
“He is a very strong traditionalist and in the Vatican there are far too many of them, these backward-looking traditionalists who don’t want any kind of change.
“I think of course it is all leading to the fact that if you free women of contraception, with a marriage to a priest even, you’re leading inevitably to the female priesthood or at least a part-female priesthood, which is a terrifying thought for most people who are in the higher echelons of the church right now.”
She added: “At a time when I think the church needs to change, it is losing the faithful in many countries now, it needs desperately to change and accept the differences in the change of position of women throughout the world.
JUST IN: Pope Benedict ‘forced strict measures’ from Pope Francis
“I’m sure Pope Francis is aware of this and he’s also extremely popular with the people.”
Benedict and Francis’ relationship has been difficult over the course of his tenure at the Catholic church’s helm.
Benedict resigned seven years ago, claiming poor health and growing mental pressures within the chief position.
It was the first time such a move was made since the 1400s, and has seen Benedict continue to exert his authority and influence over some of the church’s most staunch traditionalists.
Some argued that Francis’ decision to not allow a move that would have seen married men allowed to become priests in the Amazon regions, in a bid to combat a worrying decline of clergymen in the most remote areas, was due to Benedict.
Pope Francis health update: How is Pope Francis doing?
Pope health fears: Vatican City confirms coronavirus case
Coronavirus latest: Does the pope have coronavirus? Pope Francis sick
It even led one Brazilian priest to claim the church was “not mature enough” to make such a bold statement.
And for Ms Telford, it is just another example of Benedict’s attempts at derailing Francis’ time as Pope.
Ms Telford added: “It does seem a pity that Pope Benedict is still living in the church and being able to influence people against the present Pope like this.
“I think it is very worrying and the fact they might bring down Pope Francis at some point is already in the back of my mind.
“He is a man who is working for change.”
Source: Read Full Article