Francis marks 5 years as pope amid love, disenchantment
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.