Msgr. Charles Chaput, Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia, gave a lengthy interview to The Pillar, in which he openly criticizes certain aspects of Francis's pontificate, particularly the synodal process, which he describes as reckless and prone to manipulation.
The Synod on Synodality
“About the process, I think it’s imprudent and prone to manipulation, and manipulation always involves dishonesty. The claim that Vatican II somehow implied the need for synodality as a permanent feature of Church life is simply false.
Moreover, I was a delegate to the 2018 synod, and the way ‘synodality’ was smuggled onto the agenda was manipulative and offensive. It had nothing at all to do with the synod’s theme of young people and the faith. Synodality risks becoming a kind of Vatican III Lite; a rolling council on a much more controllable, malleable scale. That wouldn’t serve the needs of the Church or her people.
I served a term on the Permanent Council of the Synod of Bishops starting in 2015. And I remember some brief discussions about the difficulty of holding another ecumenical council because of the large number of bishops today. But I’d be very wary of the idea that synodality can somehow take the place of an ecumenical council in the life of the Church.
There’s no tradition of bishops delegating their personal responsibility for the universal Church to a smaller number of bishops…. That’s not the current spirit or reality of what’s happening.”
Pope Francis's Relationship with the Jesuits
“Well, I’m a Capuchin Franciscan, and that’s shaped my life in a profound way. The Jesuit formation Francis received would naturally have the same effect. But when a religious becomes a bishop, he belongs to his diocese, its presbyterate, and its people. I love my Capuchin brothers, but I’m a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. That’s my primary loyalty.
Francis is the bishop of Rome; that role, and its obligations, both to his local diocese and to the universal Church, are his primary loyalty — not the Society of Jesus. Over-reliance on your religious community and its members, unless you’re a bishop serving in the missions, is not a good idea.
And I do think it’s clear that Francis governs like a Jesuit superior general, top-down with little collaborative input. He also seems to put much more emphasis on his personal discernment than on the discernment of past popes and the general discernment of the Church through the centuries.”
Accusations from Rome
“Turning serious doctrinal concerns into a personality debate is just a convenient way of evading the substantive issues that need to be addressed. It also shows a complete ignorance of Church history. Popes come and go, even the great ones, just like bishops and everyday Christians. What matters, whatever the cost, is fidelity to Catholic teaching — and no excuses need to be offered in pursuing that.
I’d just offer a respectful observation.… Anyone in any kind of leadership who’s unwilling to hear unpleasant truth needs to change his attitude toward reality.”