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Posts tagged ‘Benedict’

Pope and Pope Emeritus Benedict Pray Together in Christmas Meeting.


VATICAN CITYPope Francis made a Christmas visit to Pope Emeritus Benedict on Monday and said he found his 86-year-old predecessor looking well, according to television footage released by the Vatican.

Francis, who was elected in March, spent about 30 minutes with Benedict in an ex-convent on the Vatican grounds where the former Pope has been living in near isolation.

“It’s a pleasure to see you looking so well,” Francis told Benedict, who in February became the first Pope in 600 years to step down instead of ruling for life.

Television footage released by the Vatican — only the fourth time Benedict has been filmed since his resignation — showed him looking alert and in better health than on previous occasions.

He greeted Francis, 77, at the door of the residence, standing with an ivory-handled wooden cane. They walked to a chapel where they stood and prayed before speaking privately in another room.

When Francis left Benedict, he said, “Merry Christmas, pray for me.” Benedict responded, “Always, always, always.”

Benedict resigned on Feb. 28, saying he no longer had the physical and spiritual strength to lead the 1.2 billion member Roman Catholic Church.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Ex-Pope Benedict Denies Covering up Sexual Abuse.


Former Pope Benedict has denied that covered up any sexual abuse of minors by priests.
Former Pope Benedict has denied that covered up any sexual abuse of minors by priests. (Reuters file photo)

Former Pope Benedict has denied that he tried to cover up sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests, in his first direct published comments since he stepped down.

The comments—which a victims’ group rejected—were made in an 11-page letter to Italian author and mathematician Piergiorgio Odifreddi, who had written a book about the problems facing the Roman Catholic Church before the pope resigned in February.

“As far as you mentioning the moral abuse of minors by priests, I can only, as you know, acknowledge it with profound consternation. But I never tried to cover up these things,” said Benedict, who now has the title Emeritus Pope.

Excerpts of the letter were published in the Rome newspaper La Repubblica on Tuesday with the former pope’s permission.

It was believed to be the first time Benedict has responded to the sexual abuse accusations in the first person, although the Vatican has always said he did much to put an end to sexual abuse of minors by priests and never tried to cover it up.

It was also the first time since Benedict resigned on Feb. 28 that anything precise that he has written or said was published, although some people who have visited him in the Vatican house where he is living in retirement have indirectly reported to outsiders some of his comments to them.

Victims groups have accused Benedict of not doing enough to stop the abuse of children by priests while he was pope and before when he was head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), rejected his assertion.

“In the Church’s entire history, no one knew more but did less to protect kids than Benedict,” SNAP said in statement.

“As head of CDF, thousands of cases of predator priests crossed his desk. Did he choose to warn families or call police about even one of those dangerous clerics? No. That, by definition, is a cover up,” the SNAP statement said.

Victims’ groups say there is much still to be discovered about how the Church behaved in the past and want more bishops who were aware of abuse to be held responsible.

The Catholic Church’s crisis came to light in Boston in 2002 when media began reporting how cases of abuse were systematically covered up and abusive priests were shuttled from parish to parish instead of being defrocked and handed over to civil authorities.

Since then, the Catholic Church in many countries has set up new guidelines to deal with cases of past abuse, prevent new cases, report abuse to police, and stop potential abusers from entering the priesthood in the first place.

The rest of the letter from Benedict to Odifreddi referred to other aspects of the author’s book, called “Dear Pope, I Am Writing You”, such as the conflict between good and evil.

(Editing by Alison Williams and Angus MacSwan)

 © 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

PHILIP PULLELLA/REUTERS

Former Pope Benedict Denies Covering Up Sexual Abuse.


Image: Former Pope Benedict Denies Covering Up Sexual Abuse

VATICAN CITY — Former Pope Benedict has denied that he tried to cover up sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests, in his first direct published comments since he stepped down.

The comments came in an 11-page letter to Italian author and mathematician Piergiorgio Odifreddi, who had written a book about the problems facing the Roman Catholic Church before the Pope resigned in February.

“As far as you mentioning the moral abuse of minors by priests, I can only, as you know, acknowledge it with profound consternation. But I never tried to cover up these things,” Benedict, who now has the title Emeritus Pope, said.

Excerpts of Benedict’s letter were published in the Rome newspaper La Repubblica on Tuesday with the former Pope’s permission.

It was believed to be the first time Benedict has responded to the sexual abuse accusations in the first person, although the Vatican has always said he did much to put an end to sexual abuse of minors by priests and never tried to cover it up.

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It was also the first time since Benedict resigned on Feb. 28 that anything precise that he has written or said was published, although some people who have visited him in the Vatican house where he is living out retirement have indirectly reported to outsiders some of his comments to them.

Victims groups have accused Benedict of not doing enough to stop the abuse of children by priests while he was Pope and before when he was head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office.

They say there is much still to be discovered about how the Church behaved in the past and want more bishops who were aware of abuse to be held responsible.

The Catholic Church’s crisis came to light in Boston in 2002 when media began reporting how cases of abuse were systematically covered up and abusive priests were shuttled from parish to parish instead of being defrocked and handed over to civil authorities.

Since then, the Catholic Church in many countries has set up new guidelines to deal with cases of past abuse, prevent new cases, report abuse to police, and stop potential abusers from entering the priesthood in the first place.

The rest of the letter from Benedict to Odifreddi referred to other aspects of the author’s book, called “Dear Pope, I Am Writing You”, such as the conflict between good and evil.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: NEWSmax.com

Papal Biographer: Interview Was ‘Classic Francis’.


Papal biographer Dr. Matthew Bunson tells Newsmax that there was no new church doctrine made in Pope Francis’ widely published interview on Thursday but that the Pontiff’s personable style was “classic Francis.”

The senior correspondent for Our Sunday Visitor and author of the new book “Pope Francis,” was not surprised by the interview, in which the Pontiff said that the Catholic Church should not allow its bans on gay marriage, abortion and contraception to dominate its teachings.

“There’s nothing new here. He’s not changing church doctrine in any way,” asserted Bunson in an exclusive interview on Thursday.

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“I think he’s helping Catholics to contextualize the wider enterprise evangelization that actually began under Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II.”

In a dramatically blunt interview with Civilta Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit monthly, Francis also said the Church had locked itself up in “small things, in small-minded rules” and must find a new balance between upholding rules and demonstrating mercy “otherwise even the moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards.”

Having written the first English-language biography of the popular new head of the Catholic Church, Bunson said that some church leaders were probably caught off guard by the interview, which was approved in advance by Francis.

“I think they were probably taken by surprise by the interview,” he acknowledged. “I know that very, very few people in media — certainly even here in the Catholic media — had any sort of heads up that the interview was coming.”

With respect to the “house of cards” comment, Bunson said that the Pope’s message was consistent with his “long ministry” as Archbishop of Buenos Aires and now as head of the Holy See “without falling back on excessively legal responses and lacking the kind of pastoral care so many broken people in the world need to hear today.”

Since being elevated to the Petrine ministry in March 2012, Francis has challenged the Catholic faithful to move out of their comfort zone, according to Bunson.

“I think the content of the interview is classic Francis in the sense that it’s very wide ranging,” Bunson observed. “He is very discursive. He was very open. He’s not really uncomfortable grappling with difficult subjects. But he also has very much a prophetic quality to what he says and does.”

But the author also fears that the “secular media” will misinterpret the Pope’s remarks while picking and choosing specific lines to imply a “theological narrative” that doesn’t necessarily exist.

“In that sense I think the reaction from many in the secular media will be an effort to use that — the false narrative that’s being built — to create a wedge between Francis and some Catholic groups,” he warned. “But also to continue the effort to create a wedge between Francis and Benedict, which is thoroughly invalid — particularly since you can see in this interview a perfect line of continuity in my view between Francis and Benedict.”

Bunson said that anyone who takes the time to read the complete interview will “come away with a pretty clear understanding of what he’s trying to say.”

Bunson was much more surprised by the personal information that the Pope chose to share in the interview.

“From the standpoint of revealing a lot about his own personality. He has some wonderful and very interesting things to say about his sermons, about being the first Jesuit Pope, about Jesuit spirituality,” he explained.

One of the most profound messages Francis gave in the interview may have been how he views the role of the church.

“In the interview he called the church a field hospital. And he talks about the fact that the church has to welcome the gravely wounded and the injured to help them to heal,” according to Bunson. “That I think is one of the really important images coming out of this interview because in a field hospital you have to perform a kind of spiritual triage.

“You have to deal with the broken cases, the seriously wounded and injured. And once you do that through in this case providing God’s love, his mercy, by helping people who are broken and injured and wounded spiritually to have that encounter with Christ, you are then able to move on to helping these same people to understand why the Church believes what she does and there’s your opportunity to discuss the details of doctrine, of things like why the church is opposed to homosexual marriage things like that.”

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Bunson noted that the church has been experiencing a “Francis Effect” of lapsed Catholics returning to their faith.

“Catholics who have been away for a very long time are coming back, but they’re not just coming back to mass,” he observed. “From a Catholic standpoint, they’re doing it right. They’re going to confession and then they’re going to mass. So the renewal of their relationship with the Church is being done very sacramentally and I think that’s one of the things that Francis is trying to get at today too.”

He added that the Pope’s remarks were also consistent with the Second Vatican Council.

“He’s very open and has, I think, a young mind — much the same way that Benedict did,” he said. “But Francis is even more wide ranging I think. And it’s very revealing to his personality.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Paul Scicchitano

Pope Taps Vatican Diplomat as Top Aide in Shakeup.


Pope Francis on Saturday tapped a veteran Vatican diplomat to be his top aide, replacing the Holy See‘s secretary of state who in recent years increasingly became a divisive figure in a church hierarchy mired in embarrassing scandal and financial probes.

The Vatican announced that Archbishop Pietro Parolin, 58, an Italian and former deputy foreign minister at the Vatican, on Oct. 15 will assume the post held since 2006 by Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

The cardinal will remain in the position until then, giving Parolin, currently serving as papal envoy to Venezuela, time to prepare for his new duties as the Vatican’s No. 2 official.

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Benedict XVI, who retired as pontiff earlier this year, had relied heavily on Bertone as one of the few advisers in his inner circle. Bertone, a Genoa archbishop, had served the German pope for many years at the Vatican.

The Vatican noted that Bertone, 78, was retiring under a church law that requires cardinals who hold top curia posts to offer their resignations when they turn 75. Benedict had kept him in place, reportedly to the irritation of a rival faction of Vatican bureaucrats loyal to Bertone’s predecessor, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, a former longtime secretary of state.

A scandal during the latter years of Benedict XVI’s papacy involving the theft of papal documents and embarrassing revelations of alleged corruption and power plays at the Vatican was widely seen as aiming to discredit Bertone. Some believe it also was one reason that Benedict stepped down in February, the first pope in 600 years to resign.

Most of the documents, leaked by Benedict’s butler to an Italian journalist, were of interest only to Italians, a reflection of centuries of dominance and intrigue by Italians in the Vatican.

The purloined papal papers concerned relations between Italy and the Vatican, and a few local scandals and personalities. The main aim of the disclosures apparently was to make Bertone seem incompetent, unable to control the curia and unable to protect Benedict, a theologian with little apparent skill for navigating the political maneuvering around him.

Pope Francis will hold a special audience on Oct. 15, the Vatican said, “in order publicly to thank Cardinal Bertone for his faithful and generous service to the Holy See.”

Parolin, when deputy foreign minister, shuttled between Rome and Hanoi in a partly successful bid to improve decades of thorny relations between the Vatican and the communist leadership of Vietnam.

In 2009, Parolin told reporters in Hanoi that the Holy See and Vietnam had created a “good basis” for eventually establishing diplomatic relations. After the Philippines, Vietnam has one of Asia’s largest communities of Catholics.

The incoming No. 2, a native of northeast Italy, began his diplomatic career at the Vatican in 1986, and served in papal missions in Nigeria and Mexico. He was posted to Venezuela as papal nuncio in 2009.

In a statement, Parolin pledged that he would give Francis his “complete availability to work with him and under his guidance for the greater glory of God, the good of the holy Church and the progress and peace” so humanity might find “reasons to live and to hope.”

It was during Bertone’s tenure that the curia was rocked by financial probes, including investigations by Italian prosecutors suspecting that the Vatican bank was being used for money laundering.

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Bertone would continue to keep other responsibilities he holds, including heading a commission of cardinals monitoring Vatican bank operations. Last year, the bank’s president, an Italian banker considered close to Bertone, was ousted from his post in a bid to reform the Vatican’s troubled financial operations.

In an interview published on Aug. 3 with a Venezuelan newspaper, Parolin hailed Francis’ election as a “miracle” sweeping away “unjustified” pessimism associated with Benedict’s tenure. Parolin also told Ultimas Noticias that Benedict had done “everything possible to reform the church,” citing what he called his “great commitment against pedophilia.”

Anticipating Parolin’s appointment, SNAP, a U.S.-based group which campaigns to protect children from pedophile clergy, said Friday that he would not be the kind of independent-minded outsider the church needs to fight sex crimes.

“We see no evidence that Parolin is such a person,” said Barbara Dorris of SNAP, or Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

The Catholic Church has been rocked by scandals in the United States, Europe and elsewhere involving bishops who shuffled pedophile priests from parish to parish for years, and SNAP has demanded that complicit church hierarchy step down.

Francis on Saturday also confirmed that other prominent officials will remain in their current positions, including Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, Benedict’s longtime secretary and confidant.

That seemed to indicate that, at least for now, Francis wasn’t set on drastically overhauling the hierarchy he inherited when elected pontiff in March, becoming the first pope from Latin America.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Pope Names Diplomat as Secretary of State, ‘Deputy Pope’.


VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Saturday made the most significant appointment of his pontificate so far, naming a veteran diplomat as his secretary of state, Vatican prime minister and chief aide — a role often called the “deputy pope.”

Archbishop Pietro Parolin‘s appointment ends the era of Cardinal Tarciscio Bertone, who was widely blamed for failing to prevent ethical and financial scandals that marked the eight-year reign of former Pope Benedict, who resigned in February.

Urgent: Should the Pope change the Catholic Church?

Parolin, a 58-year-old Italian, is currently the Vatican’s nuncio (ambassador) in Venezuela and was the Vatican’s deputy foreign minister for seven years until 2009.

The pope’s choice of his secretary of state is important because he sets the tone for the Vatican’s central administration, known as the Curia, as well as the Vatican’s diplomatic missions around the world.

Bertone, 79, who was secretary of state for nearly all of Benedict’s pontificate, was widely accused of not keeping a close enough watch on the Curia, some of whose members have been accused of corruption and cronyism.

One of the most damaging scandals to hit the Vatican under Bertone was “Vatileaks“, when Benedict’s butler stole sensitive documents alleging corruption from the pope’s desk and leaked them to the media.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Ex-pope Benedict: ‘God Told Me’ to Resign.


Former Pope Benedict has said he resigned after “God told me to” during what he called a “mystical experience”, a Catholic news agency reported.

Benedict, whose formal title is now Pope Emeritus, announced his shock resignation on Feb. 11 and on Feb. 28 became the first pontiff to step down in 600 years.

“God told me to do it,” the Zenith agency quoted Benedict as saying to a visitor to the convent in the Vatican gardens where he is living out his retirement in near isolation.

According to the agency, Benedict told his visitor, who asked to remain anonymous, that God did not speak to him in a vision but in what the former pope called “a mystical experience”.

According to Italian media, Benedict’s decision to step down was influenced by the various scandals that blighted his eight-year papacy, including the arrest of his personal butler for leaking private documents alleging corruption in the Vatican.

He was succeeded by Pope Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, who was elected as the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years.

According to the Rome-based Zenith, Benedict told his visitor that the more he observes the way Francis carries out his papal duties, the more he realised the choice was “wanted by God”.

Last Sunday, Benedict spent a day at the papal summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, to escape the heat of the capital.

The visit indicated that the 86-year-old ex pope’s health was good enough for him to travel. There had been media reports that since his resignation, Benedict’s health had deteriorated dramatically.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

New Pope’s First Encyclical on Faith Carries Benedict’s Influence.


Pope Francis issued his first encyclical on Friday with a message on the importance of Christian faith that showed he plans no radical departure from the doctrinal stance of his predecessor Benedict.

“Lumen Fidei” (Light of Faith) was originally intended to form part of a series by Benedict on the theological virtues, following earlier encyclicals on love and hope, but was not completed by the time of his surprise resignation in February.

An encyclical is a letter to bishops and the faithful laying out a pope’s views on doctrinal or other matters.

In the 82-page document, Francis stressed the role of the Christian faith as a defense against the “massive amnesia in our contemporary world” caused by excessive trust in technology and the “subjective truths of the individual”.

“When faith is weakened, the foundations of humanity also risk being weakened,” he said, in a text issued three days before he visits Lampedusa, a tiny island south of Sicily which thousands of desperate migrants from North Africa have died trying to reach.

Francis, the first Latin American pope, has struck a more friendly, down-to-earth tone than his cerebral German predecessor, refusing to occupy the sumptuous papal apartments and shunning many of the ceremonial trappings in which Benedict appeared to revel.

The encyclical comes as the Church faces fresh turmoil over the scandal-ridden Vatican bank following the arrest of a senior cleric and the resignation of two of the top managers of the bank, known formally as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR).

The new pope has already appointed a commission of inquiry to get to grips with the problems at the IOR. Cleaning up an institution notorious for its lack of transparency will be one of his thorniest challenges.

The encyclical outlines many positions familiar from Benedict’s reign, stressing the Church’s role in guiding and shaping belief and addressing the “crisis of truth in our age”.

“I have taken up his (Benedict’s) fine work and added a few contributions of my own,” Francis wrote.

“In contemporary culture, we often tend to consider the only real truth to be that of technology: truth is what we succeed in building and measuring,” he said, adding that “at the other end of the scale we are willing to allow for subjective truths of the individual”.

“In the end, what we are left with is relativism.”

Francis restated the Church’s position on marriage as “the stable union of man and woman” but made no direct comment on the issue of homosexual unions, which has caused deep divisions in countries including France and the United States.

He said faith should encourage greater respect for nature, “a grammar written by the hand of God and a dwelling place entrusted to our protection and care,” and said it should also not make people forget the sufferings of the world.

Francis has repeatedly emphasised the importance of helping the poor and dispossessed, underlined by the choice of Lampedusa for his first visit outside Rome.

During the visit he will drop a wreath in the sea in memory of the thousands of migrants who have died on the perilous crossing from North Africa in flimsy and overloaded craft.

He will also visit the reception centre, which is the first stopping place for many when they arrive.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: NEWSmax.com

Pope: Benedict Courageous for Resigning, Warns of Power.


Pope Francis says his predecessor, Benedict XVI, was courageously following his conscience when he decided to retire.

Benedict became the first pontiff in 600 years to quit the post when he resigned in February, paving the way for Francis’ election as pope two weeks later.

Francis told pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday that God made Benedict understand through prayer the step he had to take.

Benedict explained when announcing his intention to resign that he felt he didn’t have the mental and physical strength to continue as pontiff.

The rare resignation dismayed some traditionalists in the Catholic church. But Francis praised Benedict for following “his conscience with a great sense of acumen and courage.”

Pope Francis has told churchmen to shun the “logic of human power” as he tries to rid the Vatican‘s power structures of corruption and other wrongdoing.

Francis in a homily Saturday in St. Peter’s Basilica also warned his church of the “danger of thinking in a worldly way.”

The admonition comes a day after Italian authorities arrested a Vatican accountant in a probe of an alleged attempt to smuggle millions of dollars from Switzerland into Italy. In the latest scandal tainting the church, the Italian prelate is also under investigation in a separate money-laundering probe.

Separately, an Italian cardinal, Velasio de Paolis, told Rome daily Il Messaggero that the Vatican “must clean house,” adding Francis is right to pursue his anti-corruption campaign within church hierarchy.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Pope Francis Fights Different Kind of Culture War.


Pope Francis
Pope Francis

When Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world in February in becoming the first pope to resign in 600 years, he left behind a Roman Catholic Church weakened by scandals, beset by infighting and suffering from a general sense of isolation from the modern world.

Three months after the election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis, much of the gloom seems to have lifted.

St. Peter’s Square is again a magnet for legions of pilgrims, and the communications problems that dogged Benedict’s papacy have receded. Francis’ simpler, direct style, together with his focus on the poor and the marginalized, has captivated the world.

The first pope from Latin America has now amassed more Twitter followers in Spanish than any other language.

As Francis prepares to mark his first 100 days in office next week—an admittedly arbitrary measure for a 2,000-year-old institution that thinks in centuries—here’s what we’ve learned so far about this most unconventional of popes:

Style is substance

For the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit and editor of the Vatican-sanctioned magazine La Civiltà Cattolica, the most important change Francis brought to the papacy is his knack for “significant gestures that immediately convey very powerful messages.”

Francis started changing the tune of the papacy straight from day one, when—to the shock of his Vatican handlers—he insisted on personally settling his tab at the clerics’ residence where he stayed during the conclave that elected him.

The Argentine soon made it clear that he had no appetite for the creeping traditionalism and pomp of church power that had begun under his predecessor. He abandoned Benedict’s signature red cape, shoes and hats, preferring a simple white cassock and the plain iron cross he wore in Buenos Aires.

Francis says he’ll stay at the Vatican this summer rather than escape to the papal retreat at Castel Gandolfo. In a world so steeped in tradition and choreographed rituals as the Vatican, a change in style really is a matter of substance.

“He took up this new mission with great enthusiasm and warmth,” said the Rev. Miguel Yanez, an old friend and former student of the new pope.

Avoiding isolation

The break with the past culminated with Francis’ decision to shun the ornate papal apartments for a small suite at the Domus Santa Marta, the modern Vatican guesthouse for visiting cardinals and priests.

He did so, Francis explained in a letter to a priest friend, in order to avoid becoming “isolated.”

It’s a telling indicator of how Francis envisions both himself and his new job, especially after the Vatileaks scandal in which Benedict’s personal butler—arrested for leaking personal documents—described the scholarly pope as out of touch with the world and his own staff.

At Santa Marta, Francis started celebrating a daily Mass with different groups of Vatican employees. The colorful, provocative and off-the-cuff homilies he delivers have become one of the distinctive features of his pontificate.

Nevertheless, Francis’ informal sermons have puzzled Vatican officials, who still aren’t sure what to make of his candid denunciations of the church’s “triumphalism,” careerism and pride. For months, they didn’t even appear on the Vatican page where all the pope’s activities and speeches are listed.

A poor church

Francis has used his daily homilies to focus time and again on what is emerging as the central theme of his pontificate: building a “poor church, for the poor,” as he put it in his meeting with the world media a few days after being elected.

The focus on “the poorest, the weakest, the least important” has dominated Francis’ public outings since his inaugural Mass on March 19. Almost on a weekly basis, Francis has urged his fellow churchmen leave their comfort zone and reach out to those who live at the margins of society.

It was most visible during Holy Week, when Francis washed the feet of 12 juvenile inmates, including two girls, during a visit to a Rome prison. In a Vatican still struggling to reform its scandal-ridden bank, Francis more than once remarked that neither St. Peter nor St. Paul had any bank accounts.

“When (St. Peter) had to pay taxes, the Lord sent him to the sea to catch fish and find the money in the fish, to pay,” he said on Tuesday (June 11).

Francis has repeatedly denounced consumerism and what he called the “culture of waste” of modern economies, and making it clear that environmental protection will be a priority for the church.

Francis’ condemnation of runaway capitalism and an exclusive focus on profit are ideologically in line with his predecessor—but the vigor and frequency with which he strikes these chords are definitely new.

A different kind of culture war

While Francis minced no words in highlighting the “social gospel,” he has been less eager to engage in the culture wars over abortion or gay marriage cherished by his predecessors.

If Benedict warned of the “dictatorship of relativism,” Francis, in a speech to a group of ambassadors from tax havens such as Luxembourg and Antigua, berated the “dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.”

Money, he said, must “serve” man, not “rule” over him.

No one doubts the new pope’s anti-abortion credentials, but the fact that he has condemned abortion isn’t the same as making it a touchstone issue of his pontificate.

And even as France’s Catholic Church was engaged in a very visible fight against the legalization of gay marriage, with hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets, Francis only seldom referred to it.

Rather than blaming the media, the pope has constantly reminded Catholics that the devil is a Catholic’s true enemy, arguing that they are engaged in a spiritual fight for renewal and salvation that overshadows petty politics and partisan interests.

Unfinished business

Even with the successful charm offensive, the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics are still wondering whether the jovial 76-year-old Jesuit will be able to deliver real reform to the Vatican’s centuries-old bureaucracy.

One month after his election, he appointed a group of eight cardinals to draw up a plan to reform the Curia. Their first meeting, though, isn’t scheduled until October.

In the Vatican, all of Benedict’s aides and appointees – including the gaffe-prone Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone – remain in office, at least provisionally.

For Spadaro, Francis is still in a “listening phase,” as he gets to know the people around him and evaluates the issues facing the church.

So, even if Francis came to the papacy surrounded by great expectations for change, “it wouldn’t be right to pass judgment on his capacity for reform just now,” he said.

Francis’ record as a Jesuit leader and an archbishop shows that he can take hard decisions. “But he won’t do it abruptly, he will do it deliberately and after long consideration.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

ALESSANDRO SPECIALE/RNS

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