New pope’s style is an implicit criticism of Benedict’s papacy

March 19, 2013

(Combination picture shows Pope Francis (L) waving as he arrives in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican on March 16, 2013, wearing his pectoral coss made of steel. His predecessor Pope Benedict XVI (R), with a golden cross,  greeting the crowd outside his residence in the Vatican on April 21, 2005. REUTERS/Max Rossi/Kai Pfaffenbach)

With every day Pope Francis reigns, his style reveals more contrasts with his predecessor Benedict in ways that amount to an unspoken criticism of how the retired pontiff conducted his papacy.

The enthusiasm former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio has ignited among Catholics by approaching the job like a parish priest rather than a papal monarch points to a yearning for a leader the Church has not seen since the charismatic Pope John Paul II.

Six days are a short time to judge a papacy on, but the approval for Francis seem to show this is closer to what many Catholics want in a pope.

“Bergoglio represents the road not taken eight years ago,” said Italian theologian Massimo Faggioli, who teaches at the University of St Thomas in Minneapolis.

“Benedict is a great theologian, but being pope is not about being a theologian,” he said. “I think history will see him as a pope who showed a particular side of what Catholicism is today, not as a pope speaking for the whole Church.”

Enzo Bianchi, head of Italy’s Bose monastic movement, contrasted the upbeat mood now to the embattled atmosphere in the Church only a few months ago.

“When we spoke of the Church, we did so without a smile,” he wrote in the daily La Stampa on Sunday.

“Now once again, we can look at the Church with sympathy, restore trust in an institution that seemed to many to be far-off and hardly trustworthy.”

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4 comments

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The title of Mr. Henighan’s would-be slur is just plain silly. It’s like saying Steve Job’s influence over Pixar an “implicit criticism” of Walt Disney.

Apples and oranges. Different peersonal goals, different personal styles. It’s OK to be different, or all Popes would have the same name and eventually run out of Roman numerals.

Please. Pope Francis has been given the wheel of the Catholic church. If he changes course, that’s his “call”. The speed with which he changes course and the angle, again his “call”. Less than two weeks into his papacy, give the man some slack, OK?

I’m not a Catholic, and I’m not a believer, but so far from afar this man has shown great promise and great potential even as further specifics unfold much like the wings of the butterfly emerging from the cocoon.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

What a tool. If “a” is different from “b”, does that mean “a” is critical of “b”? Do daisies “critize” roses “critize” lilacs? Only in the mind of journalists needing to fill word count.

Benedict was the intellectual, more a 16th century pope than one who fit easily into the feel-good 21st century. First days for Francis I, we’ll see how he puts his stamp on the Vatican bureaucracy and finances before coming to judgement.

Posted by pashley1411 | Report as abusive

This article is like much of press opinion. It says much more about the biases of the author than it does about his subject.

Posted by DHJD | Report as abusive

To suggest that the style of Pope Francis in the first few days of his pontificate is an implicit criticism of Benedict XVI is utter nonsense-and Pope Francis himself would be the first person to say so. His Holiness has done nothing but show his predesessor kindnes since the day own his election, going so far as to call Benedict on March 19th to wish him a happy nameday! Francis also lead the faithful in prayer for BXVI from the loggia of St. Peter’s barely more than an hour after his own election to the papacy.

Posted by mjh1917 | Report as abusive