Cardinal O'Malley speaks of polarization, effects on opposition to pope

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Boston Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley, in a Dec. 17 interview with a newspaper from Argentina, spoke about how some church factions in the U.S. drive views opposing Pope Francis via polarizing media messages.

The cardinal, head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, also spoke of how the sex abuse crisis has impacted evangelization.

In the interview with La Nación on the occasion of Pope Francis' 85th birthday, Cardinal O'Malley said polarization and opposition to Pope Francis includes some conservative prelates in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, but he did not name anyone.

"Yes, the episcopal conference is polarized, but it is difficult to put a (figure on the) percentage of the opponents. There are also some bishops who are linked to a more conservative policy, and the Holy Father himself has commented on the situation of EWTN television, where, many times, the commentators are very critical of the Holy Father, at least of his ideas," Cardinal O'Malley said. 

Even so, the vast majority of Catholics, and even non-Catholics, favor the pope, and are very much on his side, Cardinal O'Malley said, adding that there are concerns about the influence of some of the polarizing content on members of the clergy.

"We have a young conservative clergy and sometimes they are very influenced by social media, and it is a problem," the cardinal told the newspaper.

In the published question and answer, the interviewer asked whether the bishops are the problem.

"Not all of them," he answered. "Some."

Cardinal O'Malley also addressed the sex abuse crisis and how it's linked to evangelization efforts in the church.

"The reputation of the church has been badly damaged, and we have lost the trust of the people. As I always say to bishops: How can they believe us if they think we don't care about their children? It is impossible," he said. "That is why it is very important that there is transparency and zero tolerance. Although it is a difficult issue, there is nothing more important in the church at this time, because if we do not solve the problem of sexual abuse and the protection of minors, how are we going to carry out evangelization? People will not trust us."