Will Pope Francis modernize the Vatican? This is an important question, as one in 10 adults is a former Catholic. The Vatican has sent out a questionnaire through its website to gauge Catholic opinion on the Church’s teachings. This has surprised many who believe the Church is badly in need of reform.
The Vatican questionnaire wants to know what Catholics think about tough issues such as same sex cohabitation/marriage and contraception. This questionnaire is in preparation for a Synod of Bishops (an advisory body to the pope) in 2014.
In the preparatory document entitled “Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization,” the document says:
“Concerns which were unheard of until a few years ago have arisen today as a result of different situations, from the widespread practice of cohabitation, which does not lead to marriage, and sometimes even excludes the idea of it, to same-sex unions between persons, who are, not infrequently, permitted to adopt children.”
Pope Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, Argentina, chose the name ‘Francis’ after Saint Francis of Assisi, who adored animals and had a deep love for social justice. It’s a name that befits our pope, as he leads a spartan lifestyle. He doesn’t even live at the Vatican; instead, he lives in an apartment and prepares his own meals. As if to show he follows his own word, he recently suspended a German bishop for leading a lavish lifestyle, a complaint many congregants have about the Vatican.
Pope Francis has turned the tide the world over. People are listening to him, and paying attention. The pope is a sea change from the days of Pope Benedict, who seemed cold and rigid. Many had not connected with a pope until now, thanks to Pope Francis, who seems keen on reaching out to his congregation, especially the disabled, the afflicted and the poor. Judging by the recent photos of Pope Francis embracing and blessing a man with neurofibromatosis and a child with cerebral palsy, he comes across as genuinely loving and concerned about the marginalized.
When Pope Francis visited Assisi, Italy, his first visit was to the Serafico Institute of Assisi, a group that rehabilitates severely disabled children. Children, especially, seem to gravitate to the pope. During a Mass in St. Peter’s Square in October, a little boy greeted Pope Francis on stage and insisted on staying by the pope’s side. He has washed the feet of juvenile delinquents, including a Muslim girl, demonstrating his desire to become more inclusive.
Daring Utterances from Pope Francis
“The court is the leprosy of the papacy.”
“You might say, ‘Can’t we have a more human Christianity, without the cross, without Jesus, without stripping ourselves? … We’d become pastry-shop Christians, like a pretty cake and nice sweet things. Pretty, but not true Christians.”
“It makes me sad when I find sisters [nuns] who aren’t joyful. They might smile, but with just a smile they could be flight attendants!”
“If I was living alone, isolated, it wouldn’t be good for me. A professor asked me the same question, ‘Why don’t you go and live there (in the papal apartments)?’ And I replied: ‘Listen to me professor, it is for psychiatric reasons.’”
By Juana Poareo