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By Russell Shaw, The Catholic Thing, Oct. 21, 2019

Note: Robert Royal continues his reporting from Rome and the Amazon Synod. Read his latest report, “Wheels within Wheels?”, by clicking here.

Russell Shaw“I expect this will cause a bit of heartburn at the Civiltà Cattolica,” a man who writes about Church affairs recently remarked to a colleague.

He meant the list of candidates for president and vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The bishops will vote on the candidates at their fall general assembly in Baltimore next month. La Civiltà Cattolica is the Rome-based Jesuit review, edited by Father Antonio Spadaro, S.J., a confidant of Pope Francis who has publicly deplored what he sees as a rightward drift in American Catholicism.

And indeed that list of ten bishops nominated by their peers for the top offices in the bishops’ conference will be probed for its meaning by people who’ve been following the twists and turns in the relationship between Rome and the Church in the United States. Things have reached the point that even the pope has spoken as if an American schism were a real possibility.

In an article last month bearing the title “A Schism in All But Name?”, Christopher Lamb, Rome correspondent of Britain’s liberal Catholic weekly The Tablet, approvingly quoted an analysis by Massimo Faggioli, an Italian Catholic Church historian. Faggioli teaches at Villanova University while writing dyspeptic commentaries on American Catholicism that appear in a variety of journals: “The theological culture and background of Francis, and a certain evolution of American conservatism in the direction of neo-traditionalism: these two ingredients have radicalized the opposition against him.” ….