Pope Francis at age 10: A reformer’s learning curve, plans

VATICAN CITY (AP) – A lot for a little papal credential.

Pope Francis Monday marks the 10th anniversary of his election, far longer than the “two or three” years he once envisioned for his papacy and showing no signs of slowing down.

On the contrary, with an agenda full of problems and plans and no longer burdened by the shadow of Pope Benedict XVIFrancis, 86, has stepped back from talking about retiring and recently described the papacy as a job for life.

History’s first Latin American pope has already made his mark and could make an even greater impact in the years to come. Yet a decade ago, the Argentine Jesuit was so convinced he would not be elected as pope that he nearly missed the final vote as he chatted with a fellow cardinal outside the Sistine Chapel.

“The master of ceremonies came out and said ‘are you going in or not?’ Francis recalled in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “I realized later that it was my unconscious resistance to being let in.”

He was elected the 266th Pope on the next ballot.

Sexual Exploitation

Francis had a steep learning curve on clergy sexual abuse, initially downplaying the problem in ways that left survivors questioning whether they “got it.” Five years in his Pont Cert was a wake-up call after a problematic trip to Chile.

During the trip, he found that there was a serious inconsistency between what the Chilean bishops had told him About an infamous case and reality: hundreds or even thousands of Chileans were raped and molested by faithful Catholic priests over decades.

“That was my conversion,” he told the AP. “The bomb exploded only when I saw in it the corruption of many bishops.”

Since then Francis has passed a number of measures aimed at holding the church hierarchy accountable, but results have been mixed. Benedict removed about 800 priests, but Francis appears to have been far less eager to protect abusers, indicating resistance within the hierarchy to efforts to permanently remove abusers from the priesthood.

The next frontier of crisis has already raised its head: the sexual, spiritual and psychological abuse of adults by clergy. Francis is aware of the problem – a new case concerns one of his fellow Jesuits – but there seems to be no will to take concrete action

Importance of Synod

When a history of Francis Pontificate is written, entire chapters may be devoted to his emphasis on “synodality”, a term that has little meaning outside Catholic circles, but one of Francis’ most important church contributions. Can go down as.

A synod is a gathering of bishops, and Francis’s philosophy that bishops should listen to each other and lay people has come to define his vision for the Catholic Church: He wants it to be a place where the faithful are welcomed. To be done, supported and heard.

The synods held during his first 10 years produced some of the most important and controversial moments of his papacy.

After hearing the plight of divorced Catholics during the 2014-2015 Synod on the Family, for example, Francis opened the door Divorced and civilly remarried couples to receive Communion. Calls to allow married priests marked his 2019 synod on Amazon, though Francis ultimately rejected the idea,

His October synod included an unprecedented outpouring of Catholic faithful about their hopes for the Church and the problems they face, including demands for women for greater leadership roles, including ordination.

latin mass

Catholic traditionalists were wary when Francis first emerged as pope on the loggia of St Peter’s Basilica without the red cap that his predecessors had worn for formal events. Yet he didn’t expect to reverse one of Benedict’s signature decisions. By reintroducing restrictions on the old Latin Mass, including where and who could celebrate it.

While the decision directly affected a fraction of Catholic mass-goers, his crackdown on the Tridentine Rite became a call to arms for the anti-French Orthodox opposition.

Francis justified his move by saying that Benedict’s decision to liberalize the celebration of the Old Mass had become a source of division in parishes. But conservatives took the new restrictions as an attack on conservatism, which they saw as contrary to Francis’ “everyone is welcome” mantra.

Joseph Shaw of the UK branch of the Latin Mass Society said, “Instead of integrating them into parish life, a ban on the use of parish churches will marginalize and push out faithful Catholics who simply want to worship.”

While the short-term prospects of Francis softening are not great, conservatives have time on their side, knowing that in a 2,000-year-old institution, another pope may come along who is more amenable to the old rite.

role of women

Francis’ quip about “female genius” has long irked women. Women theologians are “strawberries on the cake”, he once said. He said that nuns should not be “old maids”. Europe should not be a barren, infertile “grandmother”, he told EU lawmakers – a remark that earned him angry phone calls from then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

But, it is also true that Francis has done more than any pope before him to promote women in the Church, including naming several women to high-profile positions in the Vatican.,

Not to mention that only one in four Holy See staff is female, no women head departments or divisions, and Francis has upheld church doctrine that forbids women from the priesthood.

But the trend is there and “there is no going back,” said Maria Lia Zervino, one of the first three women named to the Vatican office that helps the pope select bishops from around the world.

LGBTQ loyal

Francis’ insistence that long-marginalized LGBTQ Catholics can find a welcoming home in the church can be summed up by two declarations that have eluded his papacy to date: “Who am I to judge? to do?” and “being gay is not a crime.”

In the midst of making those historic statements, Francis reached out to LGBTQ people with a recognition of their sinfulness more than any pope before him.

He serves members of a transgender community in Rome. He has advised gay couples to raise their children Catholic. During a 2015 visit to the US, he publicized a private meeting with a gay former student and partner of the man to counter the stereotypical narrative. that he had found an anti-gay marriage activist.

“The Pope is reminding the Church that the way people treat each other in the social world is of far greater moral importance,” said Francis Debernardo of the New Way ministry. Acceptance of LGBTQ Catholics.

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