The child abuse crisis was certainly one important contributor contributor to this toxicity. It is interesting to compare the two ways in which Francis and Benedict dealt with it. Benedict, with a truly pastoral heart, dealt personally with cases brought to him. It was his Friday penance to weep over and deal with the dossiers, and every pastoral visit had with it a meeting with the abused and a public apology. Francis, a more political Pope, or perhaps just a more skilled administrator, has set up a commission to deal with the matter, has had a few meetings with abused but still feels able to console the US bishops on the suffering they endured over the issue and is confident enough to invite Cardinal Daneels, who has a well documented history of cover-up to the Synod, and the media seem quite disinterested.
One of things we might admire Francis for is taking the poison out of the relationship between the Church and the world. In many ways he is less revolutionary than his predecessor, he says and does the things the world expects the Pope to say and do. One of the problems is perhaps that he appeals more to those outside the Church than those inside it. Benedict carefully chose to conceal the Papacy under signs and symbols, Francis has got rid of most of those and placed his personality front and centre. The world seems more comfortable with that, it can deal with 'personalities' especially political ones. One of things that fascinates me is that, listening to the Pope, I never quite know what he is saying or I think he is saying one thing, only to have it readjusted a few days later, if it has caused a little storm in the media, by Fr Lombardi, who carefully explains what His Holiness had really meant.
The change in the relationship of the Church and the media is the most significant but within the Church Francis seems to be much more divisive figure. 'Cardinals are fighting like ferrets in a sack', as one commentator said recently. The bishops arriving at the Synod can easily be divided into 'innovators' and those who oppose them, even Cardinal Prefects speak openly of the possibility of schism. There is a sense of suspicion alive in the Church, an open mistrust of certain bishops and some even dare to suggest that the Pope himself is not to be trusted, though more loyal Catholics are likely to criticise the Pope's ministers rather than the Pope himself. There seems in some instances a visceral hatred of Francis on some internet sites.
The centrality of Peter is essential to the Church, it is Dr DeVille points out at the service of 'unity'. After the lio Pope Francis has to re-establish trust not just in himself but in but in the bishops in the Church as he has done outside it in his Papacy, because trust is an essential to faith and mistrust of the Pope and Bishops is seriously damaging to the Church's integrity and ultimately to individuals' faith. Unitatis Redintegratio is clear that not only is disunity a scandal but it is also detrimental to faith. Speaking for myself the shifting sands of the build up to the Synod has hardly strengthened my faith.