Analyzing Pope Francis’ First 5 Years

Elise Italiano and Christopher White write:

Pope Francis’ invocation to “make a mess” or to shake things up is largely reflective of the colorful and accessible language he uses so frequently. While critics charge that he is theologically imprecise, we believe the pope’s language expresses closeness to the people of God — like a shepherd who smells like his sheep.

His call to make a mess is intuitive for those of us who find little resonance with current political parties uninterested in coming together for the common good, economic systems that are consumer-driven and transaction-based, and communities or parishes that are self-referential and detached from the real needs of those around us.

His image of the church as a field hospital — made messy by its blood, sweat and tears and one that tends to visible wounds with compassion — is an image of a church that is compelling and one we want to be a part of because we know it’s one that responds to real-life experiences rather than remote or abstract ideas.

Young people want to be the first responders in this type of church.

John Gehring writes:

While Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI often spoke about environmental stewardship, Francis is the first pope to write an encyclical focused on the environment. He views climate change as an urgent moral challenge, and urges world leaders to act swiftly to curb our addiction to oil. But Pope Francis isn’t getting his talking points from the Democratic Party or liberal pundits. He is prioritizing and building on the traditional platform of Catholic social teaching in ways that have not been accentuated in recent decades.

In short, he’s not going rogue. As the Vatican’s Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church — released during Pope John Paul II’s papacy — puts it, wealth “exists to be shared,” goods have a “universal destination,” and “any type of improper accumulation is immoral.” The catechism of the Catholic Church refers to “sinful inequalities” that are “in open contradiction to the Gospel.”

Pope Francis is a reformer not because he breaks with orthodoxy. What his opponents miss or deliberately distort is that the Francis revolution is about rescuing doctrine from a dry religious legalism that has no life, and renewing the best of Catholic tradition with an eye to the future. This should be a project Catholics on the right and left can get behind.

Crux has an article featuring commentary from numerous Catholic leaders:

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York

When he visited New York in 2015, I saw, first-hand the tumultuous and enthusiastic reception of hundreds of thousands – millions, really – of New Yorkers to Pope Francis.  To this day, people will approach me to say, “I’ve been away from the Church for years, but Pope Francis is drawing me back,” or “I’m not a Catholic, but I sure love this pope.”  To me, that remains his greatest gift, to take the Church’s timeless teaching and present it in a new, daring, exciting way.  He is helping people take a fresh look at the Catholic Church, and thereby come to know Jesus, and experience His love and mercy….

Sister Sharon Euart, Executive Director of the Resource Center for Religious Institutes and former Associate General Secretary to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Pope Francis has employed a new language of word and gesture to electrify people by the essential joy of the Gospel. His preference for the forgotten – women, men and children on the margins of Church and society – forces Catholics to look beyond sectarian concerns to embrace a wounded world. His message of love and his tender concern for all people spans divisions to unite distant and disparate people. His efforts to build communion (union-with) amid cacophony and conflict motivates us to go beyond the superficial to recognize the fundamental dignity of others.