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

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VATICAN CITY – So much for a short pontificate.

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

On the other hand, with an agenda full of problems and plans and not in the shadow of Pope Benedict XVI, Francis, 86, has supported him from talking about his resignation and he recently described the papacy as a job for life.

History’s first Latin American pope has already made his mark and could have more influence in the years to come. But ten years ago, the Argentine Jesuit was so sure he would not be elected pope that he almost missed the final vote while talking to another friend 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 face going in.”

He was elected as the 266th pope on the next ballot.

Francis had a steep learning curve on clerical sexual abuse, initially downplaying the problem in ways that led survivors to question whether he “got it.” He received a wake-up call five years after visiting Chile.

During the trip, he found a real disconnect between what the Chilean bishops had told him about an infamous case and the truth: hundreds or thousands of Chilean faithful had been raped and abused by Catholic priests over decades.

“That was my turn,” he told the AP. “That’s when the bomb went off, when I saw the corruption of many bishops here.”

Francis has since passed a series of measures aimed at holding the church hierarchy accountable, but the results have been mixed. Benedict removed about 800 priests, but Francis seems far more willing to destroy abusers, showing resistance within the hierarchy to efforts to remove predators from the priesthood permanently.

The next frontier in the crisis has already reared its head: sexual, spiritual and psychological abuse of adults by clergy. Francis is aware of the problem – a new case involves one of his fellow Jesuits – but seems unwilling to take strong action

When the 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 may go down as one of the Francis’s most important church contributions.

A synod is a gathering of bishops, and Francis’ philosophy is that bishops must listen to each other and the laity has come to explain his vision for the Catholic Church: He wants it to be a place where there is welcome on the believers, with them and if they are heard.

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

After listening to the plight of divorced Catholics at the 2014-2015 conference on the family, for example, Francis opened the door to allow divorced and civilly remarried couples to receive Communion. Calls for married priests marked his 2019 synod on the Amazon, although Francis ultimately rejected the idea.

His assembly in October has included an unprecedented canvass of the Catholic faithful about their hopes for the church and the problems they have encountered, raising demands from women for more leadership roles, including ordination.

Catholic traditionalists were wary when Francis appeared as pope for the first time on the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica without the red cape worn by his predecessors for formal events. But they never expected him to reverse one of Benedict’s signature decisions by reinstating restrictions on the old Latin Mass, including where and who can celebrate it ,.

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

Francis justified his move by saying that Benedict’s decision to free the celebration of the old Mass had become a source of division in parishes. But traditionalists took the renewed restrictions as an attack on orthodoxy, one they saw as contradicting Francis’ “all welcome” mantra.

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

Although the short-term prospects for Francis don’t look good, the traditionalists have time on their side, knowing that in a 2,000-year-old institution another pope could come along who is more friendly to the t -old ritual.

Francis’s questions about the “feminine genius” have long been in decline for women. Feminist theologians are the “icing on the cake,” he once said. Nuns should not be “old maids,” he said. Europe should not be a barren, barren “grandmother,” he told EU lawmakers — a comment that earned him an angry phone call from then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

However, it is also true that Francis has done more to promote women in the church than any previous pope, including appointing several women to high-profile positions in the Vatican.

That is not saying much because only one out of four Holy See employees are women, there is no woman in charge of a diocese, or a department, and Francis has adhered to church teaching prohibiting women from the priesthood.

But the movement is there and “it is not possible to go back,” said María Lía Zervino, one of the first three women appointed to the Vatican office that helps the pope choose bishops around the world.

Francis’ belief that long-marginalized LGBTQ Catholics will find a welcome home in the church can be summed up by two statements that have concluded his papacy so far: “Who am I to judge? and “Being homosexual is not a crime. “

In between making these historic statements, Francis made outreach to LGBTQ people a mark of his papacy more than any pope before him.

He will minister to members of a transgender community in Rome. He has given advice to gay couples who want to raise their children Catholic. When he visited the United States in 2015, he announced a private meeting with a former gay student and the man’s partner to counter the conservative narrative that he had received an anti-marriage campaigner gender

“The pope reminds the church that the way people treat each other in the social world is of much more moral importance than what people might do in the privacy of a bedroom ,” said Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministries, which advocates for more. acceptance of LGBTQ Catholics.

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