In 10 years, Pope Francis destroyed the Catholic Church – WSJ

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 In 10 years, Pope Francis destroyed the Catholic Church - WSJ

The reign of Pope Francis, which began 10 years ago, promised to be special from the first minutes, writes the Wall Street Journal.

When Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio became the new pope on March 13, 2013, he appeared on the loggia in front of St. Peter's Basilica without the traditional red cloak for the occasion, and then broke the custom even more by bowing his head to the crowd in the square below, asking them to bless him.

These were signs of the new informality and accessibility that the Argentine pope has espoused ever since, often speaking impromptu and departing from tradition on a large and small scale. topics ranging from divorce to homosexuality, upsetting conservatives with its progressive slant, though not always satisfying liberal hopes.

The pope called on a group of young Catholics at the beginning of his reign to “make a riot” and often denounced rigidity in moral matters as damaging to faith. But critics say he also encouraged polarization, which some say could threaten the unity of the church.

After 35 years under St. John Paul II and the Pope Benedict XVI, the church took conservative positions, including on controversial issues of sexual and medical ethics. Now church leaders are openly discussing rethinking the doctrine against contraception and same-sex relationships.

Germany's bishops voted on Friday to introduce an official liturgy to bless same-sex relationships, a move that would have been unthinkable a decade ago.

The decision is part of a larger project by the German church to change doctrine and practice in areas such as the ordination of women, the abolition of priestly celibacy, and the role of the laity in church government. The move has alarmed church conservatives, including in the US, who have warned that this can lead to a split in the church or constant opposition of its individual parts.

“There is a feeling that topics that were once considered taboo and not discussed are suddenly in the spotlight,” — said John Allen, editor of the Catholic website Crux. This openness “caused widespread excitement within Catholicism, but also provoked opposition both from the traditionalist right, convinced that things had gone too far, and from the impatient left, worried that change is not moving fast enough or far enough.”

The Pope did not support some of the progressive goals that his more liberal approach had hoped for.

He disappointed those who expected that it would allow the ordination of married men as priests and women as deacons, a lower rank of clergy. Both ideas were supported by a majority of bishops at a Vatican synod in 2019. But the Pope did not rule out such changes in the future.

German bishops' vote last week on same-sex blessings came in defiance of a 2021 Vatican decree approved by the Pope banning such blessings on the grounds that God “cannot bless sin.” And Pope Francis expressed concern that a German synod that ended in Sabbath after more than three years of meetings, too far removed from the rest of the church.

But the German synod, whose progressive trajectory was clear from the start, would never have taken place without the blessing of the pope, said Robert Mickens, English editor of the Catholic publication La Croix International.

some may accuse him of opening Pandora's box. He likes to start the process and let other people push it forward, — said Mr. Mickens.

Pope Francis, like his two predecessors, had to face a protracted crisis of sexual abuse by priests.

For several years, Pope Francis has highlighted the church's progress in combating abuses. In one particularly controversial case, he dismissed accusations against a Chilean bishop of covering up abuses. issue led to Pope Francis asking all the bishops of Chile to resign.

It later adopted new rules for punishing bishops who abuse or cover up abuse by priests. But under Pope Francis, the Vatican was more reluctant to defrock priests found guilty of abuse than under its predecessor, Pope Benedict.

The pope, who was elected after scandals involving corruption and incompetence in the Vatican, received from the cardinals who elected him a mandate to reform the world headquarters of the Catholic Church in Rome. He continued the efforts begun under Pope Benedict to prevent money laundering scandal-ridden the Vatican's bank, which is believed to have recovered.

The Pope himself has touted the ongoing Vatican trial of 10 people, including a once-powerful cardinal, as evidence of greater transparency and accountability when it comes to the Vatican's investments that he centralized and put under the supervision of a group of external experts. .

Pope Francis' style of government has proved to be a mixture of authoritarian and democratic, drawing criticism and baffling even many of his supporters.

On some of the most important topics, Pope Francis indirectly contributed to change. He has given an unprecedented number of interviews and press reports. conferences, making informal comments that have become much more widely known than his official statements. The most famous example of — his response in 2013 to a question about gay priests: “Who am I to judge?”

The Pope has institutionalized this indirect approach by adopting “synodality”, the idea of ​​church governance that emphasizes the participation of all members of the church, including the laity. Pope Francis has called a worldwide synod that will culminate in two meetings in Rome this fall and next year that will the role of women and LGBT people in the church.

For his supporters, this initiative is a sign that Pope Francis is moving towards a church that listens to its members. For his critics, synodality — it's a recipe for cacophony and decay.

Pope Francis is likely to leave some of the more contentious topics to his successor, who will also have to deal with the church's growing divisions, said Sandro Magister, who writes about the Vatican for an Italian magazine. L'Espresso.

“Destroy the unity of the church — a relatively simple and quick task, but restoring — gigantic task that could take decades to complete, — said the Magister.

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