POPE FRANCIS: MY DECISIONS ARE THE FRUIT OF THE MEETINGS BEFORE THE CONCLAVE. I HAVE DONE NOTHING ON MY OWN....
My Comments first: To say that there are contrasts between Pope Francis and Pope Benedict would be an understatement. Except for the white papal cassock, the externals are completely different, from everyday wear to the liturgy. In the article below, highlighted in red, the Holy Father states his decisions are a result of the conclave and he has done nothing on his own. That might be an overstatement.
I don't think it was a secret that many cardinals and bishops were displeased with the direction of the Vatican under Pope Benedict from the restoration of the baroque in the liturgy (albs, vestments, etc) to the mismanagement of the Vatican by those delegated by Pope Benedict to manage, especially the Vatican Bank, but other administrative decisions that proved detrimental to the papacy of Pope Benedict. Some blame Cardinal Bertone for Pope Benedict's downfall.
What has Pope Francis criticized the most? First of all it has been the cardinals, bishops and priests in the curia. He has called them out for acting like princes, meaning self-serving rather than serving the Church. Keep in mind Pope Benedict gave Pope Francis the findings of a secret investigation of the problems in the Vatican that undermined the papacy and the Church. It is not a secret that corruption was rampant, first of all with the Vatican bank and financial issues in the Vatican and with then those who served themselves in a regal way rather than the local Churches of the world in Gospel simplicity and humility.
Secondly, Pope Francis has called for Gospel simplicity in the Vatican. This has to do with how prelates dress and what cars they drive and where they live. Living as princes means a lavish lifestyle unbecoming those who are called to serve the Church with Gospel simplicity. It means the abuse of power or the ability to control for purposes other than the promotion of the Gospel.
Thirdly the Pope has addressed issues in the liturgy in terms of some restored elements, such as lace vestment, Roman chasubles and lavish accouterments. I think many cardinals and bishops disliked the frilliness of papal liturgies and the huge candles and crucifix that became more important than the elements placed on the altar to be consecrated--meaning the focus on the candles and crucifix (in terms of size and grandeur, rather than on the bread and wine to be consecrated and the bishop/priest who is a sacramental icon of Jesus Christ at the Liturgy.
Fourthly, the academic approach to the Church's teachings of both Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict has been balance by Pope Francis' simple, down to earth catechesis. He has criticized making the Church's teachings too academic and intellectual. Thus he is basic, relies more on devotional elements of his teachings. His catechesis is more practical and heartfelt rather than lofty and academic.
Fifthly, Pope Francis has continued the crackdown on the dying LCWR and its heresies. In fact, in this regard the Holy Father has named their problems as heresy through Cardinal Mueller. This is quite serious. But Pope Francis has also gone after the Franciscans of Mary Immaculate and the internal divisions based upon which form of the Liturgy this order will use and when as well as issues concerning the interpretation of Vatican II. Evidently there are some who are overly sympathetic to the SSPX and their ideologies and the liturgy became a battle ground of division in this regard, but a symbol of something more remiss. The liturgy in religious orders should unite not divide as in parishes too. Apart from that we do not know if the Franciscans of Mary Immaculate held their found in such high esteem as to constitute a form of an unhealthy cult as was the case with the founder of the Legionaries of Christ. Perhaps Pope Francis is grabbing the bull by the horns with the Franciscans in an overreaction to how lax Pope Saint John Paul II was with the Legionaries of Christ and their depraved, corrupt founder. At any rate, I am grateful for more discipline coming from the Vatican towards religious orders on the far right and left be they nuns or monks, sisters or priests.
Traditionalist Catholics might be upset with what they think is a persecution of traditionalists. But keep in mind Pope Francis has excommunicated leftist individual priests since becoming pope, those who promote women priests and other perversions. He has not done so with any traditionalist priests and he hasn't reinstituted the excommunication of the SSPX bishops. This is significant! The door is still open to the SSPX complete reintegration into the full communion of the Church and perhaps through a personal ordinariate.
It appears all these things were mandates of the cardinals or at least some of the cardinals at the conclave. I am willing to wait and see if this will result in a "new springtime" for local dioceses, parishes and religious orders. To say that the Church has been and still is dysfunctional since the Second Vatican Council would be an understatement. We are in epochal change in society, culture and the Church. Is Pope Francis the bridge to a more functional Church and are some of the restorative elements of Pope Francis, both pre-Vatican II and Post-Vatican II the proper balance that the next Pope will confirm or go in his own direction? Time will tell.
Pope Francis weekend newspaper interview:
(Vatican Radio) The Rome daily “Il Messaggero” on Sunday published an interview with Pope Francis made by journalist Franca Giansoldati. In his responses to questions on a wide range of issues, the Holy Father focused, among other things, on the challenges of change in the current “era” and “culture,” which has consequences for political, financial, and social life. The Church, along with various civil and social institutions, must respond to these challenges by protecting the common good and defending human life and dignity.
“Always protecting the common good, which includes “defending human life and dignity” is “the vocation of every politician,” the Holy Father said. Today, the problem of politics – which Pope Francis called a “worldwide problem” – is that it “has been devalued, ruined by corruption, by the phenomenon of bribery.” This “moral decay, not only in politics but also in the financial or social” sector, is driven by “change of epoch” that we are experiencing today, which is also “a change of culture.” In this context, our anxieties about poverty are not concerned solely with material poverty.
“I can help someone who is hungry, so that they are no longer hungry,” the Pope said. “But if someone has lost his job,” he is involved in another kind poverty. He no longer has his dignity.” Helping families in need, then, requires a “joint effort.” Pope Francis recognized that this is an “uphill” journey, but insisted it must be undertaken, working above all for the good of children. “Starting a family is an effort,” he said, because of economic difficulties that “social policy does not help.” Commenting on the very low birth rates in Europe – which makes it seem “as if she were tired of being a mother, preferring to be grandmother,” the Holy Father noted that the causes of this phenomenon lie not only in a “cultural drift marked by selfishness and hedonism,” but also in the current economic crisis.
Pope Francis was asked how he would respond to being called “a communist.” “I would only say that the Communists have stolen the banner… The banner of the poor is Christian; poverty is at the heart of the Gospel.” The cause of the poor is pre-eminently a Christian cause. The Gospel cannot be understood “without understanding real poverty.” At the same time, the Pope said there is also a “very beautiful ‘poverty of the spirit’,” being poor in the sight of God because God fills you up. The Gospel, in fact, is addressed indiscriminately to the poor and to the rich and "does not at all condemn those who are rich,” but rather condemns their riches when they become the objects of idolatry.
To the question “Where is the Church of Bergoglio headed?” Pope Francis replied, "Thanks be to God, I don’t have any church – I follow Christ. I didn’t found anything.” He went on to say “my decisions are the fruit of the meetings before the conclave. I have done nothing on my own.”The Church in Asia “is a promise,” he said, turning to his upcoming trips to Korea, in August, and to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, in January. He also spoke about China, saying it represents “a great, a very great pastoral challenge.”
During the interview, Pope Francis also took up a number of other themes already addressed during his pontificate, such as the place of women in the Church. Without an understanding of femininity, the Pope said, one “cannot understand the Church herself.” Women “are the most beautiful thing God has made. The Church is a woman.” He said that in doing theology, one must take account of this “femininity,” and that the Church must continue to work on and develop a “theology of the woman.”
Pope Francis spoke also about the corruption and the economic and sexual exploitation of children. The Pope speaks of incidents of child prostitution that were reported to him when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, involving even elderly men. “For me,” the Pope said, “people who do this to young girls are paedophiles.”
Finally, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the patron saints of Rome, Pope Francis spoke about the everyday life and traditions of the City of which the Pope is the bishop. This role, the Holy Father said, is “the first service of Francis.” Pope Francis said Rome shares many of the problems of other cities “such as Buenos Aires.” He said a conference dedicated to the theme of “the pastoral care of the great cities” will take place in Barcelona in November. Pope Francis expressed his hope that the citizens of Rome, the inhabitants of a city “that should be a beacon in the world,” would not lose “joy, hope, confidence, despite difficulties.”