Conservative U.S. Catholics feel left out of the Pope's embrace

Steve Skojec, the vice president of a real estate firm in Virginia and a blogger who has written for several conservative Catholic websites, wrote of Francis’ statements: “Are they explicitly heretical? No. Are they dangerously close? Absolutely. What kind of a Christian tells an atheist he has no intention to convert him? That alone should disturb Catholics everywhere.”

In an interview on Friday, Mr. Skojec said he was overwhelmed by the positive response to his blog from people who said they were thinking the same things but had not wanted to say them in public. He said he had come to suspect that Francis is a “self-styled revolutionary” who wants to change the church fundamentally.

“There have been bad popes in the history of the church,” Mr. Skojec said. “Popes that murdered, popes that had mistresses. I’m not saying Pope Francis is terrible, but there’s no divine protection that keeps him from being the type of guy who with subtlety undermines the teachings of the church to bring about a different vision.”…

In parsing Francis’ statements in recent weeks, other conservative Catholics are concluding that nothing he has said contradicts the Catholic catechism, with some of his language even echoing Benedict’s. But in interviews, the words that conservatives used most often to characterize Francis were “naïve” and “imprudent.” They believe that he is saying things in ways that the news media and the church’s “enemies” are able to distort, and that there are consequences.