Pope Francis himself told reporters on his plane back from South Sudan last Sunday that his critics have "exploited" Benedict's death to further their cause. "There is a civil war in the heart of the church which will continue until the last day of the papacy," he told AFP. Global consultationsThe tensions come as the Catholic Church conducts a vast global consultation on its future, the "Synod on Synodality" launched by Pope Francis in 2021. Designed to decentralise the governance of the church, it has revealed key differences, with the German Catholic Church, for example, showing distinctly more appetite for reform than Rome. He said critics of Pope Francis are already converging into a "current of thought capable of influencing the next conclave", and by extension the next papacy.