March 13 ought to have been a happy day in Rome. But the mood in and around Vatican City before, during and after the 10th anniversary of Pope Francis’s election was more somber than festive — and not because the anniversary fell during Lent. Rather, the melancholy reflected the current atmosphere in the Holy See, which has gone unremarked for too long and deserves candid description.

The financial reform of the Holy See, while not without accomplishments, has stalled far short of completion; both the Vatican’s structural deficit and its vast unfunded pension liability remain to be seriously addressed.

The German bishops openly defy Roman authority, much of institutional German Catholicism seems comfortable with apostasy, and a schism is not out of the question. The papal voice in response to this crisis is, at best, muted. Yet the authority of American bishops to provide for the liturgical nourishment of some faithful Catholics is squashed.

Bishops and cardinals who have a tenuous grasp on fundamental truths of the Catholic faith continue to be appointed, in part because of the (typically unreported) fact that Pope Francis often governs in an imperious manner with little concern for established procedure.

The somber mood in Rome these days also reflects embarrassment over the dramatic decline of the Vatican’s moral authority in world affairs: the result of both inept papal commentary and Vatican policies that create the impression that the Church is abandoning her own. Very few senior churchmen are enthusiastic about the Holy See’s kowtow to the Marxist mandarins of the People’s Republic of China, whose communist party now plays a prominent role in naming bishops. The Holy See’s accommodating approach to the brutal thugocracies in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela breeds more embarrassment. When opposition leaders plead for the Holy See to vigorously defend the persecuted Church and imprisoned Catholic dissidents in those countries, their requests often go unanswered — or they’re told by a (very) senior Vatican official that, while he is personally sympathetic, the Pope insists on a different approach.

And then there is the fear engendered by a systematic effort to deconstruct the legacy of St. John Paul II. The John Paul II Institute for Studies of Marriage and Family at the Pontifical Lateran University has been gutted; its new, theologically woke faculty attracts very few students. The approach to the moral life that has dominated the “synodal process” thus far is a flat-out rejection of the basic (and classic) structure of Catholic moral theology that undergirds the Polish pope’s 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor — just as the deliberate ambiguities in the 2016 apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, undercut John Paul II’s teaching in the 1981 apostolic exhortation on marriage and the family, Familiaris Consortio.

Full story at Catholic World Report.