This chapter continues the discussion on coalitions in the Catholic Church by describing the conservative or priestly coalition. The strength of the conservative coalition is structurally determined by the centralized papacy, and to bolster its own structurally (hierarchically) based power, the current papacy is closely allied with the Roman curia, certain conservative segments of national hierarchies, and key theologians. In addition, organized lay groups such as Opus Dei, Comunione e Liberazione, and the Knights of Malta play an important role in the papal coalition. Thus, as the new millennium dawns, the papal coalition is dominant, priestly, conservative – and formidable. The chapter exemplifies this power by accounts of the aborted reforms of the Roman curia, the growing pains of the newly established Synod of Bishops, retrenchment in the appointment and promotion of bishops, and constraints on the autonomy of bishops, scholars, lower clergy, and nuns.
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