"[After the Reformation,] the Papal Communion was reknit, much more closely and self-consciously than the late medieval Church, by the Protestant challenges; but the very vastness and richness of the organic life still possible in it, admitted of the existence of strong theological tensions within a single ecclesiastical body, with the spontaneity and vitality which such contained tensions always bring to theological and ecclesiastical thinking. The much smaller and more theologically homogeneous Protestant bodies on the Continent, each modelled largely upon the thought of a single master-mind, had no such inner possibilities, as is shown by the increasing stagnation of orthodox Protestant thought abroad after about 1570. In the rare cases where such strictly theological tensions arose among Protestants, they usually issued in further schisms ...
"It is historically obvious that [the Counter-Reformation Church] owed this basic advantage to its retention of the Papacy ..."*
Exactly. Another way of putting this ... a rather English way ... would be to say that the Latin Church was a very Broad Church, containing a rich variety of 'churchmanships'.
Fundamentally, this remained true until the present pontificate. You only have to recall the criticisms made by Traddies of S John Paul II and Benedict XVI for some of the appointments they made. Tagle a Cardinal?!?!
There are many tragedies in the present pontificate, but it seems to me that the most distressing of them all is the narrowing of Church life so that only one 'Churchmanship' (I hope to be forgiven for my Anglican terminology) is encouraged; what, on this blog, I have tended to call 'Bergoglianity'. This is demonstrated both by appointments made (e.g., of Cardinals Cupich and Tobin in America), and of the alacrity with which resignations are accepted from bishops felt to be unsympathetic, in contrast to the delays in replacing 'Bergoglians' (e.g., Wuerl, still running his diocese as I write) however gravely compromised they are.
Presumably, PF is aware of his own mortality and is anxious to do what he can, in the time available to him, to prescribe and to delimit the future. "Old men in a hurry to realise their dearest dreams can be very short-sighted."*. One of his own close collaborators, at the beginning of this pontificate, admitted as much.
But to understand PF is not to excuse him for the very great calamity which he is bringing upon the Latin Church by his facile brutality and his unconcealed and narrow partisanship.
The Roman Pontiff is meant to be the Father, papa, of all God's people, not just of his own cronies.
*The first quotation comes from the Report Catholicity offered to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1947 by fourteen Anglo-Catholics including (the future) Bishops Carpenter, Mortimer, and Ramsey. And T S Eliot! The Report was drafted by Dom Gregory Dix. The second quotation is from Dix.