Pope Francis has criticized the “backwardness” of certain conservative factions within the U.S. Catholic Church, arguing that they have substituted faith with ideology. He contended that a proper interpretation of Catholic teaching is open to change over time.
The Pope’s remarks come in the context of ongoing divisions in the U.S. Catholic community, which has been polarized between progressives and conservatives. His comments were made during a private gathering with Portuguese Jesuits in Lisbon on August 5. The Vatican-approved Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica subsequently published the conversation’s transcript.
In that meeting, a Portuguese Jesuit shared his experiences of facing criticism from Catholics, including some U.S. bishops, during a sabbatical year in the United States. These individuals criticized both Pope Francis’ decade-long papacy and contemporary Jesuits.
The Pope, an 86-year-old Argentine, validated these concerns by pointing out a “very strong, organized, reactionary attitude” in the U.S. Church, which he termed as “backward.” He cautioned that such a mindset results in a closed-off attitude, which he deemed mistaken.
“Doing this, you lose the true tradition and you turn to ideologies to have support. In other words, ideologies replace faith,” Pope Francis said.
He went on to assert, “The vision of the doctrine