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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Francis' first year

Today's the first anniversary of Francis’ election and there are and will be a ton of articles on the subject ... see the UK Catholic Herald's links to some of them here. I liked what Andrew Brown has to say on this.

I haven't read most of the articles yet but I assume that even though some of the articles are written by conservatives and some are written by liberals, many of them will reach the same conclusion ... that though the pope has made many changes in style, he hasn't made many concrete changes in the church, and that is because he doesn't have the power to do so.

The conservatives will say this because they really want it to be true, given Francis' repudiation of their carnival. The liberals will say this because they don't want other liberals to give up on Francis as being all talk and no action.

I'd like to contest the idea that the pope cannot make serious changes in the church. I'm no canon lawyer (though this Vatican page on the powers of the pontiff looks fairly convincing to me) but even a glance at the last few popes would show that they could and did make not only unilateral decisions but sometimes very unpopular decisions without breaking a sweat.

So why hasn't Francis made more changes, especially touching on women, gays, the divorced, sex abuse, and married clergy ... is that he thinks he cannot or that he doesn't want to? I don't know. Today The Tablet writes about a poll on the subject. Here's the beginning of the article ...

Developing the role of women, reforming the Vatican bureaucracy and improving the Church’s record on abuse are the three areas Pope Francis must most urgently address, according to a survey conducted by The Tablet.

Some 73 per cent said Pope Francis must prioritise developing the role of women, 72 per cent highlighted the need to press ahead with curial reform and 68 per cent said they wanted him to focus on “child protection, the censure of clergy who have abused or covered up abuse, and care for victims”.

More than 1,400 people completed an online poll on The Tablet’s website between 19 February and 4 March. Every continent was represented, with one third of respondents from the UK and one third from the US. One fifth were clergy ...

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