NPR

With Vatican In Turmoil Over Abuse Allegations, Questions Remain About What Pope Knew

In the era of social media and the 24-hour news cycle, mudslinging between rival church factions is now occurring in the open. Key unanswered questions have emboldened some of the pope's critics.
Pope Francis arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday. Source: Giulio Origlia

For centuries, the words "Vatican" and "intrigue" have gone hand in hand. But the Holy See's centuries-old code of secrecy ensured that scandals and conspiracies usually remained hidden behind the tall and sturdy Renaissance walls of the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, unbeknownst to the faithful masses around the world.

Now, in the era of social media and the 24-hour news cycle, mudslinging between rival church factions is being waged out in the open.

"It's as if the Borgias and the Medicis had Twitter accounts," Christopher Bellitto, a professor of church history at Kean University in New Jersey, told the National Catholic Reporter.

The power struggle has been simmering ever since the Argentine-born Jorge Maria Bergoglio became Pope Francis in 2013. He signaled a break with his two predecessors by promoting a message of mercy over strict dogma, of inclusion over punishment.

The anger of a traditionalist faction critical of the pope's more welcoming church broke out into the open

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