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If you read more than one piece on the one-year anniversary of Pope Francis' papacy (I'd also first recommend Paul Baumann's Slate essay) I might go self-referential and suggest a few stories that I reported from Rome that look ahead at where we may be going in this pontificate.
The first big structural move by Francis comes, as expected, on the financial management side:
VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis on Monday (Feb. 24) launched a sweeping reform of the Vatican’s scandal-plagued financial system by naming one of his closest advisers on reform, Australian Cardinal George Pell, to head a powerful new department that will oversee the entire management of the Holy See.
Picking up on a theme from Saturday's address to the College of Cardinals, Pope Francis at Sunday's Mass in St. Peter's Basilica had some even stronger words for what many call the "princes of the church." Here is my story on the Mass, and some choice bits from the homily:
The case of the Obama administration v. the Little Sisters of the Poor (the theatrical sound of it is almost worthy of a Nast cartoon) is one of the many, many court cases over the HHS contraception mandate -- some of which (specifically, the issue of for-profit companies with religious owners) will be sorted out this term by the Supreme Court.
Pope abolishes honorary title of monsignor for diocesan priests under the age of 65
Two addresses by Pope Francis are making the rounds today, both of which provide further insights into his approach to his vocation, as pontiff and as a Jesuit. He seems to still consider himself very much one of the latter. "We Jesuits," Francis said in addressing many of his confreres as he visited the Gesu' in Rome, the mother church of the Society of Jesus.
He was also celebrating the canonization of Peter Faber, the Jesuit whose life of engagement and searching Francis appears to find deeply resonant.
The scourge of clown masses has led inevitably down that slippery slope to ... a clown pope. The Trads are right. All is lost. Never mind the image of Francis embracing the disfigured man that has gone viral and inspired so many. This is what we need to worry about...
"I have the impression that Jesus was locked inside the Church and that he is knocking because he wants to get out."
Speaking of "Throwback Thursday," Pope Francis seems to be giving new life to a number of neglected aspects of recent church history -- off the top of my head I'd say that list includes Gaudium et Spes, Cardinal Martini, Evangelii Nuntiandi, and by extension Paul VI, as well as Oscar Romero, John XXIII (as if he needed it), the Holy Spirit (as if she needed it) and the list may go on.
The Zenit news agency summarizes a La Repubblica interview (that secular daily is rocking the Vatican beat) with Archbishop Victor Fernandez, director of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina and a theologian said to be "very close to the Holy Father." Many are trying to find a lens to communicate Francis to the world, and the church, and this seems as spot on as any effort I have seen:
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