News / Europe

Despite High Hopes, Pope Francis' First Year Mostly Change in Style

Despite High Hopes, Pope Francis First Year Mostly Change in Stylei
X
March 11, 2014 12:52 AM
It’s been a breathtaking year since Benedict XVI became the first pope in centuries to resign, and was replaced by the first pontiff from the Americas. Jerome Socolovsky reports on the hopes that Pope Francis would single-handedly turn around the church’s fortunes.
Despite High Hopes, Pope Francis First Year Mostly Change in Style
It’s been a breathtaking year since Benedict XVI became the first pope in centuries to resign, amid allegations of scandal and mismanagement at the Vatican, and was replaced by the first pontiff from the Americas. Hopes have run high that Pope Francis would single-handedly be able to turn around the church’s fortunes.
 
A church built on such solid pillars can only be shaken up, it might seem, by a superman, which is how a street artist in Rome depicted the current pope.
 
However, it would be a mistake to think a single individual can transform a 2,000-year-old institution like the Roman Catholic Church said John Conley, a Jesuit scholar at Loyola University Maryland.
 
“I don’t believe in the 'great man theory' of history, that one person suddenly appears, and without any reference to all the other forces going on, can sort of turn things around,” he said in an interview.
 
But this baby-kissing pontiff has brought huge crowds to St. Peters Square, and he is getting many traditional Catholics to break out of their comfort zone, said Conley.
 
“I think he is calling the Church to follow what he is doing as pope, what he did as archbishop, to get onto the bus, get out into the marketplace, pick up the microphone, get your picket line ready to go,” he said.
 
The pope has showed himself to be an advocate of the poor said John Carr, a former adviser to the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference.
 
Carr has led a series of discussions at Georgetown University in Washington on the new pope, and he recalls a comment made at one of them by former Republican presidential adviser Michael Gerson.
 
“He says 'I think your new pope is a troublemaker.' And he said, ‘There’s nothing more dangerous than a troublemaker with a plan,’" recalled Gerson.
 
The plan Gerson was referring to was Evangelii Gaudium, a 220-page apostolic exhortation presented last fall at the Vatican. It quoted an early Christian saint who said that not sharing with the poor is tantamount to theft.
 
The paper angered free market advocates. Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh called it “pure Marxism coming from the mouth of the pope.”
 
Lant Pritchett, a professor of international development at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, wrote that “by dwelling on inequality, the pope is promoting envy,” one of Christianity’s most serious categories of sin.

The pope also appeared to shake up the church’s view of homosexuality when, returning from his first foreign trip to Brazil, he held an impromptu press conference with reporters on the plane.
 
“If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge him?” he said in response to a question.
 
Francis has also taken steps to rein in the Vatican bank and to appoint more non-European cardinals. But don’t expect the pope to accept female clergy or artificial birth control, added Carr.
 
“I think if people are expecting him to reverse decades of teaching, I think they’ll be very disappointed,” he cautioned.
 
Carr concedes that much of what Pope Francis has brought is a change of style. But style can be as important as substance in a church that loves symbolism.

Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid