3 Reasons Why Modern Catholics Are So Divided

By pintswaquinas July 13, 2023

When Popes St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI led the Church, it felt like most practicing Catholics were on the same team. With Pope Francis at the helm, they are more divided than ever.

What happened? Here are three things driving a wedge among Catholics.

1. We know more about what the pope says and does than ever before.
If you were a German Catholic in the 16th century, you wouldn’t know anything about the pope’s daily life. Nor would you care. If the Holy Father said or did something scandalous, the news didn’t make it to the peasants working the fields.

Even your bishop was a mysterious, distant figure. The only clergyman you’d know well would be your parish priest.

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Nowadays, social media gives us a window into the personal life of the pope. We also catch wind of many of his off-the-cuff remarks.

Because we know more, we fight more. Many Catholics of earlier generations didn’t have as much to fight over because they lived in blissful ignorance.

2. We have a pope who confuses a lot of people with his unclear statements.
People knew where St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI stood on controversial issues. That’s why these two men were hated by many liberals.

Pope Francis tends to communicate in a more ambiguous way, which leaves his words open to more than one interpretation. How we wish he would speak more forcibly about the great moral challenges of our times!

To be fair, sometimes the Vatican does issue clarifications on the pope’s words to clear up misunderstandings. Sadly, these are often left out of news reports.

3. Ordinary Catholics now have a megaphone.
It’s easy for any Catholic to create a platform for sharing their opinions, be it a podcast, website, and/or social media. By doing so, it’s possible to attract thousands of followers.

Of course, this isn’t a bad thing (Pints with Aquinas wouldn’t be around otherwise!). It makes us more aware of the differences that exist among Catholics. We need discernment and discipline as we broadcast our views to potentially thousands of people.

Yes, we are a divided Church, but we are called to bring healing to the Body of Christ. We must practice charity toward our neighbors, even when we disagree with them.

Above all, remind yourself and those around you that heaven is our ultimate goal. It’s easy to get swept away in online debates about the faith. These discussions are necessary, but if you lose sight of heaven, every argument you win is ultimately in vain.


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