Pope Francis has been labeled the most charismatic pontiff since Blessed Pope John XXIII. The reigning pope has charm, street smarts, and personal holiness. He is eminently qualified for his role as the 266th successor to the See of St. Peter as the Vicar of Jesus Christ on Earth. At the end of his first year in office Francis’ popularity as the Peoples Pope grows. Despite all the adulation surrounding this noble man of humble birth the question remains what has he accomplished as he enters his second year?
At the top of Vatican agenda is the clerical sex abuse scandals. Save for the Vatican Bank fiasco, how to clean up the mess dumped on his doorstep should be priority one. At the time of this writing Pope Francis has appointed a special group to better determine how to handle sex abuse cases. An abuse victim sits on this council. The United Nations got involved with an investigation of their own. Priest and victims rights advocate Fr. Tom Doyle told National Catholic Reporter in an interview that: “His comments about clerical sex abuse make it clear that he [the pope] is using the same tired irrelevant playbook the bishops have worn out over the past few years.” From a papal perspective closure on all sides if this thorny issue could have been achieved had church authorities’ exercises common sense. The new pope should launch an immediate global investigation of this entire mess and let the chips fall where they may. Let civil authorities handle the ‘cloak and dagger’ stuff.
In 1942 Pope Pius XII founded the ‘Institute for the Works of Religion’ the Vatican Bank to manage assets destined for religious/charitable works. Through the decades the bank has sunk into a quagmire of sordid double dealings. Allegations of global money laundering, Mafia infiltration and manipulation, transference of funds from the church’s bank by nefarious individuals and corporations to fat private Swiss/offshore bank accounts proliferate. Ordinary investors have seen their life’s savings obliterated. Pope Francis has made considerable progress in righting the wrongs of the Vatican’s bank; however according to the Council of Europe’s Moneyval Committee the Holy See’s financial watchdog agency this bank has yet to undergo inspection by bank examiners. Francis has a long way to go but obstacles keep on popping up as he sifts through the wreckage with no end in sight. This bank should come clean or face closure after consolidating its holdings and paying off bilked investors.
Pope Francis’ decision to appoint eight ‘outsider’ cardinals to serve as papal advisers has been hailed as one of the wisest moves in recent memory. Francis’ naming Australian Cardinal Pell, former Australian Rules football or soccer player, radical-reformer Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston, Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of war torn Kinshasa, Congo, Oswald Gracias of Mombai, India, Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa of Santiago, Chile (Ret.), and other multinational men to his clerical G8 list. This is a step in the right direction though Europeans still predominate as Francis’ aim to make Catholic-Christianity catholic in fact and in name.
Pope Francis and Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury are close friends. Church of England leader Justin Webly has a Benedictine friar his personal confidant. Relations between the two branches of world Catholicism has been strained for years. Its’ hoped Francis and Welby both new to their jobs help ease tensions between the two Christian denominations.
Controversial issues like same sex ‘marriage,’ homosexuality, abortion as birth control, divorce and remarriage, ordination of women though there is a precedent for female deacons in the early Church, the possibility of female cardinals, issues relating to sexual morality and condom use to halt STD’S (Despite wide proliferation of condoms and other BC devices in Thailand, AIDS cases and late term abortions soar.), and other Bible mandated tenants of Christian morality. Francis in his many talks always stated this in spite of what commentators of various political and philosophical persuasions have said. The best thing Pope Francis could do is clean out the rats in the galley, purge his officers, encourage the crew, and replace the rotten planking on St. Peter’s Bargue by any means necessary.
As often the case no matter what endeavor or situation people and organizations find themselves in political gaming will worm its way through. Career Vatican diplomat Pietro Parolin unofficial papal prime minister was no random choice for his new job. Pope Francis wants Catholic-Christianity to emerge as a key player on the world political stage for the best reasons. With political corruption, costly wars consuming lives and resources on a global scale creating surging waves of impoverished refugees, the growing threat of nuclear extinction as a result of the Russian-Ukrainian turf war, the concept of Globalization devolving into greed as unscrupulous corporate moguls drive the wedge ever wider between themselves and the struggling middle classes increasing poverty rolls on a colossal scale, little wonder why the Francis papacy want Catholic-Christianity a major voice of good for the worlds struggling billions. Having key people at the helm is good politics. The creation of a Secretariat of the Economy or papal ministry of finance is politically and religiously correct.
Despite the new pope’s energy and insight he’s only one man. For complete transformation of Catholic-Christianity it’s going to need a lot more energy and drive than the 77 year old pontiff has. Pope Francis will need time to revamp Christ’s Church, prayer, and all the right people in the right places. He’s got to think about the future of the Christian Church which implies that its’ imperative for him to set things in order for generations of Chief Stewards who will proceed him. If not all could be irretrievably lost. The papal house of stewards the Roman Curia must be revamped and Vatican-Mafia ties must be severed if Francis’ initiatives are to survive and thrive long after he’s an obscure historical footnote. Catholic-Christianity must imitate Jesus the Teacher or succumb into irrelevancy known only as an outmoded leftover from darker times. Article resource materials: The Guardian News and Media Limited (UK), National Catholic Reporter and Associated Press.