The sex-abuse crisis is now reacting explosively with another crisis: the growing rifts within the Catholic Church in the United States. There is, first, the not entirely new rift between different kinds of Catholic culture.
Then there is the rift between the current pope and many American bishops, which is more recent.
Finally, there is a new rift between Pope Francis and American Catholics; even those who love him can’t make out what his short-term strategy for dealing with the abuse crisis is—as opposed to the long-term fight against clericalism outlined in his “Letter to the people of God” of August 20.
Last week, in his article for the National Catholic Reporter , Michael Sean Winters had the courage to use the s-word: schism. A growing number of conservative Catholics no longer accept the pope’s legitimacy.
These are frightening times. Even if schism doesn’t occur, it’s bizarre to be living in a time when this term is thrown around so often.