VARIOUS: Pope Francis has reinvigorated the Roman Catholic Church but more "real" changes are...
- Title: VARIOUS: Pope Francis has reinvigorated the Roman Catholic Church but more "real" changes are expected, Vatican watchers say
- Date: 12th March 2014
- Summary: ROME, ITALY (RECENT) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) VATICAN COMMUNICATIONS ADVISOR GREG BURKE SAYING: "Well, some people have said the Francis effect has been like a tsunami, but a tsunami is really destructive. So I would say that it has been more like a wave, it's been fun, it's been exciting, but it's also been full of surprises and that's good because it shows that the Church is alive."
- Reuters ID: LVA9381QOLUCSIPXGKDJFCK5868K
- Location: Vatican City State, Italy
- Country: Italy Vatican City State
- Duration: 00:00:17
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- Topics: Religion
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None
- Story Text: The whole world was watching the Vatican after the surprise resignation of Pope Benedict and no-one seemed to know much about Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina.
But he soon became a household name after his election on March 13, 2013 ushered in a new era at the Vatican.
When he appeared on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, he looked almost startled, hesitating a moment before stepping out to greet the huge crowds gathered in the square below to catch a glimpse of the new pontiff.
In his first year as leader of the Catholic Church, Francis has sought to bring openness, consultation and humility to the Vatican.
Although he is as conservative doctrinally as the former Pope Benedict, the more simple style shown by Francis and his emphasis on the poor, has marked a change from his predecessor that has been widely welcomed by Catholics.
"Well, some people have said the Francis effect has been like a tsunami, but a tsunami is really destructive. So I would say that it has been more like a wave, it's been fun, it's been exciting, but it's also been full of surprises and that's good because it shows that the Church is alive," said Vatican Communications Advisor, Greg Burke.
In his first words to the crowd on the evening of his election, Pope Francis immediately showed a more humble and simple approach to his pontificate than had been seen with his predecessor.
"I ask you to pray for me!" he said.
The hard-working, industrious but simple attitude has been evident in the first year of his papacy.
The 266th pontiff in the Church's 2,000-year history, Francis took the helm at a time of great crisis.
"I think he has very definitely changed the whole kind of mentality of the Church and I mean if you go back to his first interview that he gave in 'Civita Catolica', the Jesuit Journals, he said the first reform is attitude - the mentality, the mentality has to change. And basically what he meant there was we have to stop focusing on ourselves and on our problems inside the church and go out, reach out. The themes have been mercy toward others, taking care of the poor, taking care of creation, that means being responsible stewards of creation. Certainly without a doubt it's been a more positive atmosphere and I think that Pope Francis, just by his warm style, has given a great example for a lot of Catholics and made them feel proud again," said Vatican Correspondent for The Tablet, Robert Mickens.
Pope Francis inherited a Church mired in scandals over priests' sexual abuse of children and the leak of confidential documents alleging corruption and rivalry between cardinals inside the Church government or Curia.
He has urged his own Church to set an example by being more fair and frugal and less pompous, and to get closer to the poor and afflicted.
"The themes have been mercy towards others, taking care of the poor, taking care of creation, that means being responsible stewards of creation. Certainly without a doubt it has been a more positive atmosphere and I think that Pope Francis, just by his warm style, has given a great example for a lot of Catholics and made them feel proud of him," added Mickens.
Reinvigorating the church, Francis has forsaken many of the trappings used by his predecessors.
He gave up the spacious papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace for a small apartment in a guest house within the Vatican walls and is driven in a simple car instead of the papal limousine.
Francis appointed a committee of eight cardinals from around the world to advise him on how to reform the central Vatican administration.
He also named commissions to advise him on what to do with the scandal-plagued Vatican bank, on transparency in other parts of Vatican finance and on how to deal with the Church's many sexual abuse scandals.
"I think people that are anxious for real change have become a bit disillusioned because they are not seeing the change quickly enough. Now in the interview that he gave to 'Civita Catolica', the Jesuit Papers, the Pope said that it takes a while, it takes time to lay a foundation for change. But I think there are probably two issues that the Pope is going to have to address especially for certain parts of the church in Europe, Northern Europe, North America, Australia, Ireland, sexual abuse of children by priests. The Pope has been very quiet on this. He set up a commission back in December, but up until now, we have no idea, there is no document to formally establish this commission, we don't know who the people are going to be in the commission and I think people are looking for a response. The second thing is I think the Pope has to address the issue, or move actually, put meat on the plate, on the issue of women, because he's talked a lot about women having roles of ... decision making roles in the church and up until now he hasn't brought any women into any significant place in the Vatican or in any other parts of the church." explained Mickens.
"The second thing is that the Pope has to address the issue of women, because he has talked a lot about women having decision making roles in the church and up until now he hasn't brought any women into any significant place in the Vatican or in any other parts of the church," Mickens said.
In February 2014 , Francis revolutionised the Vatican's scandal-plagued finances, inviting outside experts into a world often seen as murky and secretive and saying the church must use its wealth to help the poor.
Francis, who was named Person of the Year by Time Magazine, has also drawn people to the Vatican because of his outgoing, simple and friendly style.
More than 6.6 million people attended events with Pope Francis at the Vatican from his election in March to the end of 2013, figures released in January showed, compared to 2.3 million for former Pope Benedict in all of 2012.
Vatican Communications Advisor Greg Burke predicts that the Pope's popularity will continue to grow.
"I think in the years to come we're gona see more of what we have seen already, the Pope spreading things out in terms of bringing in Cardinals, others for more consultation, making it more global. I suspect we will also see that the College of Cardinals will reflect the global church more and more as well, that it won't be so euro-centric because the church is not so euro-centric, it is growing in the developing world," said Burke.
After a hectic year, Pope Francis will mark his one year anniversary with a week-long Lenten spiritual retreat outside the Vatican - the first time the retreat for the pope, cardinals, bishops and of the Holy See will take place outside the Vatican walls in living memory.
The Pope arrived at the religious institute on Sunday (March 9), carrying his simple briefcase and greeting his hosts.
This is the latest example of Pope Francis instilling more simplicity in the Vatican.
Francis, the first Jesuit pope, is carrying on a tradition of his religious order to hold spiritual retreats away from peoples' usual place of work in order to inspire detachment and contemplation.
Pope Francis's days in Ariccia begin with Mass, breakfast and a meditation by Monsignor De Donatis. Then, there is lunch and free time before more meditation, followed by vespers, Eucharistic adoration and dinner.
On the final day, March 14, those participating in the retreat will celebrate Mass together, have breakfast, listen to the last meditation, and then leave for the Vatican at 10:30 in the morning.
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