The well-known Catholic Italian writer Vittorio Messori has said he and “many Catholics are concerned, some are even desperate” about the current state of the Church, but that he is not without hope because Christ never leaves his Church alone.

Messori, who wrote The Ratzinger Report with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Crossing the Threshold of Hope with Pope St. John Paul II, told the Italian Catholic daily La Fede Quotidiana Sept. 17 that confusion is “present and it is saddening, confounding.”

He said a kind of “conformism” about Pope Francis exists, which is “palpable” in the Church.

“It’s disconcerting that only two or three almost 90-year-old cardinals speak and protest,” he observed, adding that he knows of “many bishops and also cardinals whom I have dialogued with in private who are pulling their hair out in disagreement.”

“But they are afraid, silent, shutting up,” he said.

Messori noted that for two millennia criticism of the pope had been discouraged but today this tendency is “accentuated.”

“It’s said this is the Church of mercy, but it’s nonsense,” he said. “Those in command are intolerant of every critical voice.”

The Italian writer recalled writing a “polite article” in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera in which he “asked questions” and made “reflections” but was “overwhelmed with abuse, especially from certain Catholic media.” He added that a kind of committee was set up asking Corriere della Sera to remove him as a contributor.

“So with what consistency can it be stated that this is the Church of mercy, of open and fair dialogue, of parrhesia?” he asked, referring to Pope Francis’ frequent call for both mercy and open, frank discussion.

But he noted that the Church is not a business, multinational or simply a government. “In short, it cannot fail,” Messori observed.

“Of course, there are reasons for alarm. I think, for example, [of] the next Synod on the Amazon and related misunderstandings. I don't know what they want to achieve — probably married priests.

“Therefore I am worried, but not desperate,” he said, because “Christ does not leave the Church alone” and the Church “is not of Bergoglio or of the bishops, but only of Christ.”

“He governs her with wisdom,” he said. “The forces of evil will not win.”

In 2017, Messori criticized the Pope for mirroring modern society by turning the Church into a place where “everything is unstable and changeable.”

“In a ‘liquid world’ where everything becomes uncertain, precarious, provisional, it is precisely the stability and firmness of the Catholic Church that all humanity needs, not only believers,” he said.