Sexual misconduct in the Catholic Church may be the spark needed to finally light a well oiled tension brewing within the faith. The church continues to splinters along ideological divides, sparked five years back with the emergence of the new progressive Pope Francis. While he has bolstered a bit of popularity among non-Catholics, Francis has been nothing short of polarizing for the 1.2 billion Catholics world wide. The polarization has reached a point to be adequately dubbed a “Cold Civil War”.
With ideological tensions as high as they are, the emergence of alleged pedophilia and cover up could very well finally divide the church for good. “The latest sex-abuse allegations...have only increased public pressure on Francis to resign in order to save the church,” USA Today notes.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, “named more than two dozen current and former Vatican and U.S. officials and accused them of knowing about and covering up for ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who is accused of sexually molesting and harassing minors as well as adults.” Furthermore, “Adding to the crisis within the Vatican was a grand jury report in Pennsylvania that detailed the specter of more than 1,000 alleged underage victims of abuse by more than 300 priests over the span of seven decades.”
Francis is expected to provide some tough answers on the McCarrick scandal. Veteran Vatican analyst Robert Mickens acknowledges that scandals, while significant, are not the crux of the divide in the Catholic church. Mickens notes that the friction has existed “since the start of Francis’ papacy.”
The Catholic church is no stranger to sexual misconduct allegations. However, this time around the issue may be especially tender due to the transformative views on sexuality espoused by the sitting Pope. Traditional Catholics have likely fostered growing frustration with the new worldview of the Pope, granting widespread forgiveness and acceptance to homosexuals, divorcess and women who have abortions.
However, the Pope’s revolutionary principles is also cherished by many 21st century progressives. A new age of liberalism is spreading across the west, and the Pope is in the vanguard leading the way. “Reforming Rome is like cleaning the Sphinx in Egypt with a toothbrush,” suggests Francis, noting the tall task of transforming the values of traditional Catholics.
An inability to reconcile the two polarized camps, progressives and traditionalists, becomes more apparent by the day. The latest sex scandals are just stretching an already existent divide. Any small error by the Church will be under extreme scrutiny moving forward, which is the reality of a “Cold Civil War.”