Sunday 21 January 2018

Francis has changed the face of the Papacy in his first 100 days

Michael Kelly

IF anyone doubted the Catholic Church's ability to manage change, the last few months have been a striking lesson. From the almost unthinkable scenario of a pope resigning, most Catholics quickly got comfortable with one pope in charge and a former pope living in a converted monastery in the Vatican Gardens.

It's 100 days since Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio emerged on the balcony of St Peter's Basilica as the successor to Benedict XVI, the first pope to resign in over 600 years. When Joseph Ratzinger had emerged as pope just eight years earlier, everyone had an opinion. For more conservative elements within the church, Ratzinger represented a perfect continuity from John Paul's unapologetic defence of the faith. For those pushing for dramatic change in the Catholic Church, Benedict carried a lot of baggage from his previous role as the church's chief doctrinal watchdog.

Pope Francis carried no such baggage and from the first moment he reached out to greet the crowd, the mood and tone was different. He had set aside the more regal papal robes and appealed to the people of Rome – whose bishop he now was – to pray for him.

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