A summary of what’s new in Francis’ papacy, his most important messages and the changes introduced
ANDREA TORNIELLI Taken from Vatican Insider
Now that the Pope has completed 100 days in office, analysts are beginning to weigh up changes, the first criticisms and the attempts by some to pigeonhole the new Pope as either a liberal or a conservative and the increasingly spasmodic expectations of new appointments and reforms.
In his first 100 days as Pope, Benedict XVI nominated the American William Levada as his successor at the helm of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Similarly, Francis nominated Mario Aurelio Poli as his successor to the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires. Benedict XVI also promoted Wojtyla’s former secretary Stanislao Dziwisz as Archbishop of Krakow, sending him away from Rome and the Roman Curia. But no changes were made to the Secretariat of State leadership within the first 100 days or even the first year of Ratzinger’s pontificate, despite the fact Cardinal Angelo Sodano was over 75.
After his election, Benedict XVI “nominated His Eminence Cardinal Angelo Sodano as Secretary of State” and confirmed that cardinals and archbishops who were heads of dicasteries would continue in their positions donec aliter provideatur, “until other provisions are made”. The Substitute and the Secretary for Relations with States’ positions were also confirmed and the secretaries of Curia dicasteries had their positions confirmed for a further five years. Francis’ steps have been less bold: he “expressed the desire that the Heads and members of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, as well as their Secretaries, continue provisionally in their respective positions” until further notice. The emphasis on the “provisional” nature of these positions implies that the Pope intends to change the Secretary of State and the heads of other dicasteries and offices in the future.
As suspense builds over the appointment of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s successor and the announced reform in the Roman Curia, the risk is that all that has happened during Francis’ first 100 days in office will fade into the background.
One of the new elements of Francis’ papacy are the daily private or semi public morning masses celebrate din St. Martha’s House. Some have criticised these as quick and sweet spiritual messages that lack theological depth. But these homilies, together with his first improvised public speeches represent a spiritual programme in themselves.
Francis has taken themes addressed during the previous pontificate and communicated them with greater vigour. For example the importance of mercy, the condemnation of careerism, the diminution of the Church to a company or a self-referential community. He has also sent out new messages of his own: going out into the “geographical and existential peripheries.” Those who claim he has not done anything worthy of note so far, obviously referring to important nominations and structural reforms, risks becoming blind to what has already been done or started.
Francis’ sober style, his decision to get around without packs of bodyguards and the hours he spends among the crowds, embracing children and the sick, showing the world what is really important in life, shows he is light years away from the classical bishop’s figure and born again clericalism. Even before making any nominations or deciding to streamline the Curia, Bergoglio has sent out some unequivocal signs of renewal which cannot be ignored.
The Pope has received criticisms both in and outside the Curia, for acting too much like a parish priest, speaking too much and desacralizing the figure of Pope. Some have been examining every single word uttered by the new Pope, to see is they are Catholic enough, in the context of non-negotiable values for example. Websites that are loyal to certain popes remain an enigmatic phenomenon. After discrediting John Paul II to exalt Benedict XVI some are now using sarcasm to attack Francis’ every move, for the same reason, or they attack Bergoglio’s predecessor to glorify him. The general impression is that these types of criticisms have no basis in reality.
What is clear is that 100 days after Bergoglio’s election to the Throne of Peter, the public’s perception has certainly changed. After years of focusing on the scandals surrounding the Vatican, media attention is now concentrated on the sense of change which the Argentinean pope represent: his message, his language and the references he makes.