New York Daily News

Revitalize­d pope celebrates 10th anniversar­y of election, faces several controvers­ies


VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis celebrates the 10th anniversar­y of his election Monday, far outpacing the “two or three” years he once envisioned for his papacy and showing no signs of slowing down.

On the contrary, with an agenda full of problems and plans and no longer encumbered by the shadow of Pope Benedict XVI, Francis, 86, has backed off from talking about retiring and recently described the papacy as a job for life.

History’s first Latin American pope already has made his mark and could have even more impact in the years to come.

Francis (photo) had a big learning curve on clergy sex abuse, initially downplayin­g the problem in ways that made survivors question whether he “got it.” He had his wakeup call five years into his pontificat­e after a problemati­c visit to Chile.

During the trip, he discovered a serious disconnect between what Chilean bishops had told him about a notorious case and the reality: Hundreds or thousands of Chilean faithful had been raped and molested by Catholic priests over decades.

“That was my conversion,” he told the AP. “That’s when the bomb went off, when I saw the corruption of many bishops in this.”

Francis has passed a series of measures since then aimed at holding the church hierarchy accountabl­e, but the results have been mixed. Benedict removed some 800 priests, but Francis seems far less eager to defrock abusers, reflecting resistance within the hierarchy to efforts to permanentl­y remove predators from the priesthood.

The next frontier in the crisis has already reared its head: the sexual, spiritual and psychologi­cal abuse of adults by clergy. Francis is aware of the problem — a new case concerns one of his fellow Jesuits — but there seems to be no will to take firm action.

Francis’ quips about the “female genius” have long made women cringe. Women theologian­s are the “strawberri­es on the cake,” he once said. Nuns shouldn’t be “old maids,” he said. Europe shouldn’t be a barren, infertile “grandmothe­r,” he told European Union lawmakers — a remark that got him an angry phone call from then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

But, it’s also true that Francis has done more to promote women in the church than any pope before him, including naming several women to high-profile positions in the Vatican.

That’s not saying much given only one in four Holy See employees is female, no woman heads a dicastery, or department, and Francis has upheld church doctrine forbidding women from the priesthood.

Francis’ insistence that long-marginaliz­ed LGBTQ Catholics can find a welcome home in the church can be summed up by two pronouncem­ents that have book-ended his papacy to date: “Who am I to judge?” and “Being homosexual is not a crime.”

In between making those historic statements, Francis made outreach to LGBTQ people a hallmark of his papacy more than any pope before him.

He ministers to members of a transgende­r community in Rome. He has counseled gay couples seeking to raise their children Catholic. During a 2015 visit to the U.S., he publicized a private meeting with a gay former student and the man’s partner to counter the conservati­ve narrative that he had received an anti-same-sex marriage activist.

“The pope is reminding the church that the way people treat one another in the social world is of much greater moral importance that what people may possibly do in the privacy of a bedroom,” said Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry, which advocates for greater acceptance of LGBTQ Catholics.

 ?? ??
 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States