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Pope Francis, Turns 85, Don’t Let Age Slow Efforts to Reform the Church – NBC 6 South Florida

Pope Francis celebrates his 85th birthday on Friday, an even more remarkable milestone given the coronavirus pandemic, his summer intestinal surgery and the weight of history: Predecessors His father retired at this age and the last pope to live longer was Leo XIII after a century ago.

Francis is going strong, however, having recently concluded a whirlwind trip to Cyprus and Greece following this year’s pandemic-defying journeys to Iraq, Slovakia and Hungary. He launched an unprecedented two-year consultation of Catholics with rank and record on making the church more in tune with parishioners and shows no signs of slowing down in the campaign. His aim is to make the post-COVID world a more environmentally sustainable world, where economic justice and fraternity, where the poor take precedence.

“I feel a lot of energy,” said Father Antonio Spadaro, one of Francis’ trusted Jesuit communications experts. “What we are seeing is the natural manifestation, the result of the seeds he has sown.”

But Francis is also beset by problems at home and abroad and faces an ongoing campaign of opposition from the conservative Catholic right. But Francis responded with the pope’s equivalent of “no more Sir Nice Guy.”

After spending the first eight years of his pontificate, gently pushing the Catholic ranks to follow financial prudence and responsible management, Francis has been tough and willing to keep it that way.

Since his last birthday, Pope Francis has ordered a 10% pay cut for cardinals on the board of trustees, and a lower pay cut for Vatican employees, in an attempt to curb corruption. Vatican budget deficit of 50 million euros ($57 million). To combat corruption, he imposed a gift limit of 40 euros ($45) for Holy See employees. He passed legislation allowing cardinals and bishops to be criminally prosecuted by the Vatican’s lay-led tribunal, setting the stage for the ongoing high-profile trial of the once close adviser. of his brother, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, on financial charges.

Outside the Vatican, he doesn’t have many new friends either. After the passage of a law in 2019 outlining how to investigate cardinals and bishops for covering up sexual abuse, the past year has seen nearly a dozen Polish bishops unmasked. Francis also approved term limits for leaders of lay Catholic movements to try to curb their abuses of power, leading to the forced removal of influential leaders. of the church. He recently accepted the resignation of the archbishop of Paris after a media storm alleging governance and personal inadequacy.

“Over the past year, Pope Francis has accelerated reform efforts by putting the real things into his canon law,” said Bishop Robert Gahl, Director of the Church Administration Program at the Pontifical Holy Cross University. finance related church.

“While celebrating his birthday, Vatican watchers are also looking for more specific signs of compliance regarding the new Pope’s rules, especially from those who report directly to the pope. him in the Vatican,” he said in an email, noting the need for a cultural change. along with the new rules and regulations of Pope Francis.

But if there’s anything Francis has done in the past year that has stirred up his critics, it was his decision in July to reverse his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, and reset the limits. for the celebration of the old Latin Mass. to allow a freer celebration of the old rite that divided the church and was taken advantage of by conservatives.

“Some people want me dead,” Francis said of his critics.

Speaking to Jesuits in Slovakia in September, Pope Francis confided that he knew a 10-day hospital stay in July for surgery to remove 33 centimeters (about 13 inches) of large intestine has motivated those who Conservative Catholics are eager for a new pope.

“I know there are even meetings between priests who think the pope is in a worse state than is being said,” he told the Jesuits, in comments later posted on Vatican-approved Jesuit magazine La Civilta Cattolica. “They’re preparing the conclave.”

That may not have happened, but if history is any guide, those priests might not have been wrong to at least discuss the prospect.

Benedict was 85 years old when he resigned in February 2013, becoming the first pope to resign in 600 years and paving the way for the election of Pope Francis. Despite his good health at the time, Benedict said he simply did not have the strength to continue.

Before him, John Paul II died at the age of 84 and John Paul I died at the age of 65 after only 33 working days. In fact, all the popes of the 20th century died in their early 80s or younger, with the exception of Pope Leo XIII, who was 93 years old when he died in 1903.

Early in his pontificate, Francis prophesied a brief pontificate of two or three years, and credits Benedict for having “opened the door” to teacher retirements. future king.

But after surgery in July, the Argentine Jesuit made it clear that his resignation “didn’t even think about me”.

That’s good news for Sister Nathalie Becquart, one of the leading women at the Vatican. Francis tapped her to help organize a two-year consultation process by Catholics around the globe, known as the Synod. She knows well what the pope is up against as he tries to transform the church into a less clerical, more lay-centered organization.

“It’s a call for change,” she said at a conference this week. “And we can say it’s not an easy road.”

https://www.nbcmiami.com/news/national-international/pope-francis-turning-85-not-letting-age-slow-church-reform-efforts/2643680/ Pope Francis, Turns 85, Don’t Let Age Slow Efforts to Reform the Church – NBC 6 South Florida

JOE HERNANDEZ

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