A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors


A pope who reforms and a sister who rebuilds

Two don't-miss stories from the New York Times this weekend: first, Paul Vallely's op-ed "Cleaning Up the Vatican," about Pope Francis's reforms to the scandal-ridden Vatican bank and what they say about his leadership style and priorities.

The seismic changes that are underway behind the scenes in Rome are even more radical than public appearances suggest. And they offer illuminating insights into the steely character of the man who likes to present himself to the world as a model of smiling humility.

As Vallely tells it, amid the debates about "style" vs. "substance," and in ways that are not obvious to the public, Francis is getting things done. Recalling the financial scandals the pope dealt with as archbishop of Buenos Aires, which he wrote about in his book Pope Francis: Untying the Knots (and which I blogged about here), Vallely writes, "He acted swiftly, decisively and transparently — on several levels at once. And that is what he has been doing for the past year with the opaque finances of the Vatican and its scandal-mired bank." The job is a big one. But Francis seems like a man who knows what he needs to do. Here's to his success.

Meanwhile, on the margins: Sr. Teresa Fitzgerald, CSJ, and her ministry to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women in Queens is the subject of a nice profile by John Leland, "The Sister of Second Chances." The women she serves are affected by poverty many times over. Thank God there is a sister who is patient and loving enough to seek them out where they are and show them a way forward. Take some time to read about it -- and if you are moved to help, you can visit Hour Children online.



About the Author

Mollie Wilson O'Reilly is an editor at large and columnist at Commonweal.



Commenting Guidelines

  • All

An image of Francis keeps popping up in my mind:  He is walking alone down the middle of a deserted street in an old Western town.  With a great white cowboy hat on his head and six-shooters strapped to his sides, and hands ready to draw, his steps are resolute.   Frightened eyes peer at him from behind curtained a tune plays in the background, "Do not forsake me, oh, my darlin'". 

Hmmmm...filling the shoes of Gary Cooper's Will Kane is a tall order for any man!!


The still photo below has got to go down as one of the greatest cinematic photos of all time. It is one of my all time favourites. Crystal clear eyes. A pained, apprehensive look but bolstered by an interior courage and grace.

Great scene.  Gary Cooper was a Catholic convert.  Maybe that's where he learned that particular hopeless-hopeful expression.  Sigh.  Like all the other top-rated actors, even though his performances were very understated, you could always tell just what he was thinking and feeling.  

And hasn't Francis' transparency won th hearts of everyone?  (Except maybe George Will??)

"By their works you will know them." True of Francis  and Teresa Fitzgerald.  This is what the followers of Jesus are supposed to do.

And hasn't Francis' transparency won the hearts of everyone? (Except maybe George Will??)


And "Fr." Z, and "Fr" Sirico, and a substantial portion of the US bishops and Italian bishops, and EWTN, First Things, the faux NCReg, and ...... and ........

Poor Francis has a long way to go to come anywhere near winning the hearts of the opinion makers/shakers/formers in this church.

From the Vallely piece:

[Pope Francis] has hired other external advisers. Ernst & Young is scrutinizing Vatican property holdings. KPMG is bringing its accountancy systems up to international standards. McKinsey is reforming its media operations, which include TV, radio and a newspaper. Deloitte is advising on management.

There is just something to savor here: this alliance between a medieval court and MBA Land.  When heaven and Wall Street sing antiphonally, how far away can the eschaton be?


Add new comment

You may login with your assigned e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.

Or log in with...

Add new comment