The United States contains a “significant” number of groups seeking to “gag” the reforms of the Catholic Church initiated by the Second Vatican Council, Pope Francis said in a new interview.
“In the European Church I see more renewal in the spontaneous things that are emerging: movements, groups, new bishops who remember that there is a Council behind them,” said Francis in a conversation with the editors of Jesuit journals of Europe.
“Restorationism has come to gag the Council,” he continued. “The number of groups of ‘restorers’ — for example, in the United States there are many — is significant.”
The conversation between the pope and the editors took place on May 19 and a transcript of the encounter was published in the Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica on June 14.
Over the last year, Pope Francis has instituted a number of reforms meant to serve as a correction to Catholics who have rejected the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.
Among the reforms of Vatican II, which took place from 1962-1965, was the approval of the translation of the liturgy from Latin into vernacular languages, in an effort to make the Mass more accessible and involve greater participation of the laity.
Some of the most vocal critics of those reforms have come from the U.S. Catholic Church.
Yet despite the pope’s rebuke of those seeking to roll back changes in the church, he also offered a word of caution in discussing Germany’s Synodal Path, in which a number of church leaders and laity have backed calls for the restoration of women deacons and for church blessings of gay unions.
“The problem arises when the synodal path comes from the intellectual, theological elites, and is much influenced by external pressures,” he said. “There are some dioceses where the synodal way is being developed with the faithful, with the people, slowly.”
Francis also discussed the ongoing turmoil in the Cologne Diocese, where Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki has recently returned from a forced six-month sabbatical following an investigation into his handling of clergy abuse cases.
Since then, his future in the diocese has been uncertain, and Francis indicated he had yet to make a final decision on whether the cardinal will remain in his post.