We're bringing you these series of reports to help you better understand the stakes.
There are whispers and quiet chatter all over Rome just days before the controversial Amazon Synod kicks off that the conclave which elected Pope Francis might have been invalid; a very close second to the talk of an invalid conclave is that Francis may have committed heresy.
Some of the things that Pope Francis says, as well as what he does and the people he appoints, are triggering near panic with some, and at the very least great concern with many others.
For example, earlier this week, Pope Francis named Bp. Mario Grech pro-general secretary of Synod of Bishops to replace Cdl. Lorenzo Baldisseri, the actual general secretary, when Baldisseri retires.
Grech has been the bishop of Gozo, Malta, since 2005. He will be leaving that post and heading to Rome, as stated by the Gozo curia.
Here's the concern: that another anti-tradition, pro-gay cleric is assuming important powers here at the Vatican.
In early 2017, Grech, along with other bishops announced they would strip any priest of his faculties for refusing Holy Communion to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics — the first directive of its kind in the history of the Church.
In a 2018 interview with Television Malta, Grech welcomed gay unions "with satisfaction," arguing partners "have the right not to be judged."
But there's more. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who back home is telling anti-Trump Democrats to take a hike, was here in Rome this week at a Vatican symposium on religious freedom around the world.
Pompeo took the opportunity to condemn China's latest persecutions against various religions — the same China that this same Vatican and this same pope were happy to reach an accord with that has deserted Chinese Catholics.
Cardinal Zen of China told Church Militant in an exclusive interview that Pope Francis and the Vatican has "sold off the Chinese Church."
Recall, the chief negotiator for that China accord was none other than Theodore McCarrick, suspected Communist agent and proven homopredator, a man who was resurrected by Pope Francis after the pontiff knew — stone-cold knew — that McCarrick was at least a serial homopredator.
The suspected Communist and definite predator cobbled together a deal that Pope Francis approved off, and Chinese Catholics are now suffering for it tremendously —likewise, the long-awaited and never-delivered public disclosure of the Vatican's internal investigation of the entire McCarrick sordid affair.
Late last year, Francis stumbled into an arena that various scholars here are saying opened wide the door for charges of having committed heresy.
In finally declaring that the death penalty can never be moral — and apparently never has been — Francis seemed to actually upend — change — actual Catholic teaching, which traditionally has never completely ruled out capital punishment — in fact, far from it.
Nonetheless, Francis ordered the catechism changed to reflect that never-before presented "teaching."
Additionally, during this pontificate, the Pope has come out and said that God creates people gay.
He met with James Martin earlier this week, the leading proponent of all things homosexual in the Church, the same Martin who also maintains that God willfully, directly, creates people as homosexual — apparently in the womb.
All of these things, and much more, have started a lot of private conversations in and around Rome, as well as other parts of the Church, explicitly asking the question: Is Francis really the true pope?
So, quiet dinner conversations are punctuated with topics about whether the conclave that elected him was actually valid.
Or if it was valid, has Francis pronounced heresy in some fashion? And if he has, is he, therefore, no longer the pope?
None of these concerns being raised — and seriously debated — seem to have any kind of consensus reached about them; but that they are being discussed at all, much less with the intensity they are being talked about, is a signal that the Church has reached an entirely new place.
The opening of the Amazon Synod and the month-long goings-on here in Rome will surely only serve to heighten these types of concerns and speculation.
When Pope Francis talks about "schism," the observant Catholic will understand that that is more than just a word and it hasn't just come out of nowhere.