Is Pope Francis really facing a coup? Or just ‘fake news’?

Is Pope Francis really facing a coup? Or just ‘fake news’?
(Image: AP video via Newsday)

(RNS) As Pope Francis marks the fourth anniversary of his revolutionary papacy, the pontiff apparently finds himself besieged on all sides by crises of his own making: an open “civil war” in the Catholic Church and fears of schism, mounting opposition from the faithful and a Roman Curia so furious with his reforms that some cardinals are plotting a coup to topple him.

And those are just some of the more noteworthy threats to the church and his authority, at least in the view of various right-wing Catholic websites and pundits who have been criticizing Francis almost since the day he was elected four years ago on Monday (March 13).

Now, as the anniversary approaches, their claims have grown increasingly insistent and eye-popping, often migrating into mainstream media accounts as well.

Yet if you talk to senior churchmen in the U.S. and elsewhere, as well as advisers to the pope, Vatican officials and veteran church observers, these reports are also dismissed as increasingly outlandish and often driven by an anti-Francis agenda that is so hyperbolic that it is obscuring the genuine reservations that some might have about the direction Francis is taking the Catholic Church.

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