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