The summer of Catholic discontent for has brought front and center the battle lines that lie beneath the surface of the Catholic Church.

Some months ago I wrote about the de facto schism that exists within Catholic circles, chanceries, and parish pews Recent events have worsened the schism. The Twitter wars between prominent Catholics of each faction are a public symptom of the greater battle that is being waged.  

The disturbing McCarrick revelations and subsequent Vigano testimony have set us on the road to what may become a Catholic Civil War.

Who brought us to this breaking point? None other than Jorge Bergoglio, Pope Francis. He carries much of the blame for igniting this feud. He and his minions initiated the fight by sacking Cardinal Raymond Burke, rebuking Cardinal Sarah in his quest for liturgical reform, and waging a campaign against the Franciscan Fathers of the Immaculate, to name just a few.  

This so-called ‘Mercy” Pontificate has been less about mercy and more about settling scores against conservatives in the Church — in other words, to re-litigate the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict.  

This is the same Pope who informed the faithful to “make a mess’ but has also punished those who question his papal program; Francis demands unquestioned adherence. 

The controversies no longer simmer under the guise of collegiality among Catholics.  One now sees Catholics like Raymond Arroyo, Phil Lawler, Taylor Marshall, Deal Hudson and actress Patricia Heaton turning a critical eye at all that has transpired.  

These commentators have credibility because they held their fire in the past, giving the Holy Father the benefit of the doubt because he is the successor of Peter and did not want to see division come to the Body of Christ.

We are also seeing the much greater cooperation between traditionalists and conservatives.  

If you are an avid consumer of social media, you have seen the likes of Michael Matt (The Remnant), Steve Skojec (One Peter Five), Frank Walker (Canon 212) and others in the Traditionalist movement tweeting and posting articles of conservatives  such as Edward Pentin (National Catholic Register) and J.D. Flynn (Catholic News Agency) and vice versa.  

The development that brought these commentators together is the “filth” in our Church to which no one should turn a blind eye. They can all see, hiding in plain view, the destructive sexual abuse by prelates and churchmen children, young people, and seminarians. 

Pope Francis’ has a tin ear. His approach in addressing the issue, allowing many of the shady characters to remain in his hierarchy, is what brought this coalition together, at least for the time being.  

This alliance is similar to the one that was born in the wake of the Roe vs. Wade decision when Evangelicals and Catholics joined in a common purpose.  

If this partnership of Traditionalist and Conservative Catholics holds, it could be a tremendous force to help root out the corruption that exists in the Church. This pontificate has divided even further progressives and conservatives, but it is forging a new alliance. 

One of the most unattractive qualities of this pontificate is its penchant for stonewalling.  Whether it be his refusal to answer the Dubai, his non-denial, denial about his knowledge of McCarrick’s sins and of Pope Benedict’s sanctions. 

Pope Francis has no one but himself to blame for the widespread distrust. He rehabilitated the likes of ex-Cardinal McCarrick, Cardinal Danneels, etc. while sacking Cardinals Burke and Mueller and calling faithful Catholics, “Dead Christians,” “Gloomy in Heart,” and “Moralistic Quibblers.”

The Chair of Peter in the past has been a unifying force of the Church; at present, it’s causing division, mistrust, and confusion. This is the real Pope Francis Effect, not the feel-good enthusiasm that  Francis fans have been celebrating since the beginning of his pontificate.