Saturday, March 10, 2018

Pope Francis - 5 Years on

Peter Stanford the former editor of the Catholic Herald wrote a very interesting piece for the Daily Telegraph earlier this week about the first Jesuit Pope Francis. Much to disagree with in the article but an interesting read none the less.

On the positive side Mr Stanford states:

From his debut on the world stage on the evening of 13 March 2013, when he appeared as the new Pope on a balcony high above St Peter’s Square in Rome, Francis has been firing the imagination of believers and non-believers alike with his humanity, wit and warmth, and his willingness to be more outspoken than any other Pope in recent memory. He has chosen to use the moral authority of his ancient office not to lecture the world on the dangers of sex, but rather to champion the causes of migrants, refugees, the economically marginalised and the environment.

On the other side  of the coin however Mr Stanford writes:

But there is another side to Francis, one less often seen, but on display later during that same Latin American trip. When challenged in Chile by journalists about his controversial decision to appoint local priest Juan Barros as a bishop, despite allegations that Barros had been involved in covering up sexual abuse of minors by a fellow cleric, Francis suddenly came over all authoritarian and snapped back at them: ‘The day they bring me proof against the bishop, then I will speak. There is not a single proof against him. This is calumny! Is that clear?’

My own view is that so far Pope Francis is proving a great but far from perfect, Pope. He appears even handed if not  impartial, about most matters political. Thus when replying to questions about the Falklands, he wisely balanced his Argentinian origins with the need to to avoid judgment and discord about matters of international  rather than canon, law, early on in his papacy. 

He has loosened some Catholic  strictures about  receiving holy communion as regards divorcees and makes no judgment about same sex relationships.

On the other hand, the gospels do not rule our women priests so the current stance of His Holiness, which appears to be that of waiting for the slowest ships in this area of  the catholic fleet  largely perhaps in Africa, to catch up before improving Church Law, is open to question. Possibly however Rome would comment to the effect that such radical updating could cause more than consternation in many poorer countries. 

The need to attract many more young as well as not a few older, people  away from consumerism and self  centredness, especially in the West  is I believe a key to the success of religion and The Church in C21.

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