August 3, 2013

Pope Francis revolution draws criticism

The new pontiff has charmed millions, but the enthusiasm isn't shared across the board.

By NICOLE WINFIELD The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Pope Francis waves from his popemobile as he makes his way through the crowds lining the Copacabana beachfront in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last month, during his first international trip since being elected pope.

The Associated Press

But Francis said he investigated the allegations himself and found nothing to back them up. And that regardless, if someone is gay and repents, God not only forgives but forgets. Francis said everyone else should, too. By calling out the blackmail for what it is, Francis may well have clipped the wings of an ugly but common practice at the Vatican.

Francis also made headlines with his call for the church to develop a new theology of women's role, saying it's not enough to have altar girls or a woman heading a Vatican department given the critical role that women have in helping the church grow.

While those comments topped the news from the 82-minute news conference, he revealed plenty of other insights that reinforce the idea that a very different papacy is under way.

• Annulments: He said the church's judicial system of annulling marriages must be "looked at again" because church tribunals simply aren't up to the task. That could be welcome news to many Catholics who often have to wait years for an annulment, the process by which the church determines that a marriage effectively never took place.

• Divorce and remarriage: He suggested an opening in church teaching which forbids a divorced and remarried Catholic from taking communion unless they get an annulment, saying: "This is a time for mercy."

• Church governance: He said his decision to appoint eight cardinals to advise him was based on explicit requests from cardinals at the conclave that elected him who wanted "outsiders" -- not Vatican officials -- governing the church. Francis obliged, essentially creating a parallel government for the church alongside the Vatican bureaucracy: a pope and a cabinet of cardinals representing the church in each of the continents.

NO ARMORED POPEMOBILE

And then there was Rio.

From the moment he touched down, it was clear change was afoot. No armored popemobile, just a simple Fiat sedan -- one that got swarmed by adoring fans when it got lost and stuck in traffic.

Rather than recoil in fear, Francis rolled down his window. Given that popes until recently were carried around on a chair to keep them above the fray, that gesture alone was revolutionary.

He told 35,000 pilgrims from his native Argentina to make a "mess" in their dioceses, shake things up and go out into the streets to spread their faith, even at the expense of confrontation with their bishops.

He led by example, diving into the crowds in one of Rio's most violent slums.

"Either you do the trip as it needs to be done, or you don't do it at all," he told Brazil's TV Globo. He said he simply couldn't have visited Rio "closed up in a glass box."

 

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