"Every time this happens I wonder if he realizes how much confusion he is causing," said a conservative Rome-based cardinal who took part in the conclave that elected Francis three years ago and spoke on the condition of anonymity. He would not say if he voted for Francis because participants in conclaves are sworn to secrecy.
Another senior official, an archbishop in an important Vatican ministry, said: "These comments alarm not only tradition-minded priests but even liberal priests who have complained to me that people are challenging them on issues that are very straight-forward, saying 'the pope would let me do this' why don't you?'" . . .
An important crossroads in the conservative-progressive showdown is looming and might come as early as mid-March. It could reveal how far this politically astute pontiff wants to transform his Church.
Francis is due to issue a document called an Apostolic Exhortation after two years of debate and two major meetings of bishops to discuss the family - the Vatican's way of referring to its policies concerning sex.
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