A Pope who has repeatedly denied that his critics are racist, sexist or homophobic is an enemy to a lot of Catholics.
But the pontiff has not always been so careful.
The Vatican has always taken a position that many people would find offensive, including Catholic historians and others who have been critical of the Vatican’s handling of the Holocaust.
This week, for example, the pope called for a reexamination of the origins of the Nazi party.
“It is not just a matter of whether the Nazis were Nazis, or whether they were a fascist organisation,” he said.
“They were very far from being a ‘fascist party’,” he added.
The pope has also been accused of being anti-Semitic, for the first time since his election in 2013.
Catholicism is not the only religious faith to be called into question in recent weeks.
The pope also came under fire this week for not supporting the pope’s decision to remove an archbishop from his pontificate.
The archbishop, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, is known for advocating a liberal interpretation of the Catholic church’s teaching on abortion.
Nichols, who was removed from the post last week by Pope Francis, had called the pope a “fraud” for supporting the archbishop’s right to speak.
The pontiff is not alone.
Last week, the Vatican issued a statement saying that it would “immediately” rescind a canon law that said that men can be divorced and remarried, and that priests can marry.
And in October, a Vatican committee issued a report that said the church “is not a Christian community” and that Catholics “are in the most vulnerable position” to climate change.
In this week’s issue of Catholic News Service, we explore some of the key points that have changed in recent decades about the Catholic faith and the role of the church in the world.