Fran­cis marks 5 years as pope amid love, dis­en­chant­ment

The Columbus Dispatch - - Nation&world -

VATICAN CITY — Pope Fran­cis marked his fifth an­niver­sary as pope Tues­day by re­ceiv­ing a vote of con­fi­dence from his pre­de­ces­sor, even as sur­veys showed his re­form-minded pa­pacy is turn­ing off some of the most-faith­ful Catholics.

In a let­ter, Emer­i­tus Pope Bene­dict XVI, whose res­ig­na­tion paved the way for Fran­cis' elec­tion on March 13, 2013, pub­licly dis­missed as "fool­ish prej­u­dice" the opin­ions of crit­ics who say Fran­cis has no the­o­log­i­cal heft and rep­re­sents a rup­ture from Bene­dict's pa­pacy.

Bene­dict said a new Vatican-cu­rated vol­ume of books on Fran­cis' the­ol­ogy "shows Pope Fran­cis is a man of pro­found philo­soph­i­cal and the­o­log­i­cal train­ing and helps to see the in­te­rior con­ti­nu­ity be­tween the two pon­tif­i­cates, with all the dif­fer­ences in style and tem­per­a­ment."

Fran­cis down­plays the work of the­olo­gians, and his crit­ics have flagged his cau­tious open­ing to al­low­ing di­vorced and civilly re­mar­ried Catholics to re­ceive Com­mu­nion as a sign that dogma un­der the first Je­suit pope is adrift.

A poll Tues­day in France's Le Fi­garo news­pa­per found a drop in the still-high sup­port for Fran­cis among church­go­ing Catholics. The 86 per­cent who back him is 12 per­cent­age points lower than in 2015.

The poll said French Catholics want Fran­cis to bet­ter de­fend Europe's Chris­tian roots amid an in­flux of refugees, to re­think priestly celibacy and to crack down on cler­i­cal sex abuse.

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