I still love Pope Francis

This story appears in the Synod on the Family feature series. View the full series.

by Thomas Reese

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I normally do not reply to attacks in the media, but Sandro Magister is a respected Italian conservative with very good sources in the Vatican, so I want to correct a reference he made to me.

In his column "The Betting is Open on the Next Synod," he wrote:

The fact that the "reactionaries" Caffarra, Scola, and Aguilar have been invited to take part in the synod by Francis himself has significantly chilled the enthusiasm for the current pope.

The American Jesuit Thomas Reese, the former director of the magazine "America" and an influential opinion maker, an all-out fan of Jorge Mario Bergoglio at the beginning of the pontificate, after this latest blow has moved definitively into the opposing camp, against what for him is a betrayal of the awaited revolution.

First, I never made any comment about Cardinals Carlo Caffarra, Angelo Scola, and Fernando Sebastian Aguilar attending the Synod of Bishops.

I presume Magister was referring to a column I wrote expressing disappointment about the makeup of the synod. I complained that the heads of Vatican offices are members of the synod. I argued that they could attend as staff, but should not attend as voting members of the synod. Only diocesan bishops should be members of the Synod of Bishops.

Italian Cardinals Caffarra and Scola are, in fact, diocesan archbishops of Bologna and Milan, respectively, so I can't complain about their attendance.

Yes, I would exclude Aguilar because he is retired. But as a purist, I would also have to exclude Cardinal Walter Kasper, the star progressive at the synod, who is also retired. I would be happy to allow him to speak, but I don't think he should be a voting member.

I suppose everyone, both liberals and conservatives, will now be upset with me, but I am still "an all-out fan of Jorge Mario Bergoglio" and have definitely not moved "into the opposing camp."

[Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese is a senior analyst for NCR and author of Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church. His email address is treesesj@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @ThomasReeseSJ.]

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