Pope Francis' speech at Synod indicates new attacks on hardliners in hierarchy.Getty

A week before his arrival in America, Pope Francis continues to baffle and amaze, leading to headlines like “Is this Pope a Catholic” in Newsweek last week.

Some powerful figures probably don’t think so.

Cardinal Raymond Burke of Saint Louis, a known hardliner demoted by the pope, has already vowed to oppose this pope and claims he may be abusing Catholic doctrine

Talking to Catholic News Agency (CNA) earlier this year, Burke explained recent comments he had made.

“I simply affirmed that it is always my sacred duty to defend the truth of the Church's teaching and discipline regarding marriage,” Cardinal Burke told CNA on February 9 2015.

“No authority can absolve me from that responsibility, and, therefore, if any authority, even the highest authority, were to deny that truth or act contrary to it, I would be obliged to resist, in fidelity to my responsibility before God.”

Cardinal Raymond Burke. Image: Getty Images.

Cardinal Raymond Burke. Image: Getty Images.

Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia who will be hosting Pope Francis for a time next week also drew strong lines with the Pope and the findings of his recent synod on family and marriage stating: “I was very disturbed by what happened.”

“I think confusion is of the devil, and I think the public image that came across was one of confusion,” he continued.

So Pope Francis may well be of the devil, according to one reading of that, for talking about the complexities of marriage, divorce, annulment, et cetera.

To those two princes of the church, powerful men both, Francis is hardly a god-fearing Catholic.

One can only imagine their apoplexy on his line of “Who am I to judge?” when speaking about gays and, more recently, the decision to grant forgiveness to women who had abortions and sincerely confessed.

His decline has been quite steep among conservatives in America. A Gallup poll released last month showed Francis rapidly losing support among conservative Catholics. Newsday noted that it had found his favorable rating among conservatives had fallen from 72 percent last year to 45 percent in July. Even his favorable rating among all Catholics (conservative and non-conservative) dropped from 89 percent to 71 percent.

Those numbers would surely indicate many are not happy with his liberal brand of Catholicism.

The decline among conservatives "may be attributable to the pope's denouncing of 'the idolatry of money' and linking climate change partially to human activity, along with his passionate focus on income inequality – all issues that are at odds with many conservatives' beliefs," the Gallup poll analysis said.

Why this pope even approves of atheists and considers them as equals in the eyes of God!

Here is how Reuters interpreted the pope’s recent comments on the matter:

“Atheists should be seen as good people if they do good, Pope Francis said on Wednesday in his latest urging that people of all religions – or no religion – work together …

"... He told the story of a Catholic who asked a priest if even atheists had been redeemed by Jesus.

"‘Even them, everyone,’ the pope answered, according to Vatican Radio. ‘We all have the duty to do good,’ he said."

“'Just do good and we’ll find a meeting point,' the pope said, in a hypothetical conversation in which someone told a priest: 'But I don't believe. I'm an atheist.'"

Francis’ reaching out to atheists and people who belong to no religion is entirely new for a pope. So is reaching out to divorced couples, women who have had abortions and all those who do not fit easy categories.

Little wonder the orthodox critics on the right wing are shocked.

So, is the Pope Catholic?

Not Catholic enough for them, I’d bet.