When history looks back on the Papacy, how will Francis be judged?
It could be that he is seen as 'The Great Reformer'* , turning his back on 2000 years of Church teaching and starting something new. Those who disparage this position are perhaps blind to the fact most of the baptised have already done this, perhaps the Pope is merely catching up with them and the rest of the world.
Maybe the role of the Pope is to become the leader of a World Council of Churches or even religions,
When people criticised JPII's Assisi events, I used to half-heartedly point out that no other religious leader other than the Pope could call together such a band of diverse religious leaders from the Dalai Lama to Animist priestesses. Obviously, as Pope St JPII did, one can read the Vatican Council's documents in this light. Perhaps the Church is destined to become another NGO led by liberal opinion rather than the teaching of Jesus Christ.
Benedict introduced, for good or ill, something new into the Papacy, the possibility of resignation, or of deposition, before that the only way of getting rid of a Pope was murder: smothering or poison, or the quack medicine that finally saw off the ailing Pius XII.
Something seems to be abroad at the moment, posters going up over Rome, fake copies of L'Osservatore or even satirical songs like 'That's Amoris' being circulated among Vatican staff, the response seems to be typical of South American dictators: getting the police in to investigate and clamping down on the perpetrators and treating something which really is school-boyish as a major incident. In response, it seems, even the Pope's Council of Cardinals have made a 'pledge of allegiance'. Today Cardinal Coccopalmerio cancelled a press release of his book on Amoris Laetitia, which some had seen as an answer to the 'dubia', one suspects to be briefed by the Pope and his advisers.
Francis' legacy, whatever else, will be that rather than building bridges he has put up walls between Catholics. The next Conclave must choose whether to go along with course he has set or to draw back. For many liberals like the St Gall mafia the question must be whether they are confident Francis can push forward their agenda or whether he will destroy it and the Church.
*'Great Reformer' with Alexander Borgia was greeted at the beginning of his Papacy, he turned out to be something quite different.
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