Scandal, renewal and the challenge of the times

President Putin with Pope

Pope Francis took the job at a time of immense challenges for the Church, from the scourge of sex abuse to financial troubles at the Vatican, while world crises emerged from Syria to Ukraine. How is he responding to such challenges?

Ecclesia semper reformanda est:

A March 6 article in The Tablet writes that in one year, Pope Francis has begun to reform the Church, and that none should doubt just how wide and how deep go his aims for change, see HERE.

Following Pope Benedicts's resignation, in this piece HERE from ABC religion and ethics, Bishop Peter Comensoli (now the  Apostolic Administrator for the Archdiocese of Sydney), offered his thoughts on Church reform.

Following the election of Francis, in this Eureka Street article HERE, the ABC's Geraldine Doogue offered her advice for renewing the Church.

Church for the poor:

In March 2013, Francis called for 'a poor Church for the poor' as he addressed thousands of the world's press in Vatican City, reported The AusralianHERE.

He wrote in his first exhortation: 'I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets...' reported USA Today HERE.

President Obama and Pope Francis will meet on 27 March. The White House says this will focus on the disturbing growth in inequality, reported The GuardianHERE.

In January, the Pope urged the world leaders of the Davos elite to serve humanity with wealth, reported SABC, HERE.

Family issues:

The Vatican asked bishops’ conferences in 2013 to circulate a questionnaire for consideration for an October 2014 extraordinary synod to be held on the theme of 'Pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelisation.' The Tablet reports that responses to the Vatican survey on marriage and the family reveal a gap between Church teaching and practice, in this article HERE.

This is only the third extraordinary synod called in modern times, reported The Catholic Herald, HERE.

Sex abuse:

After taking office, Pope Francis urged decisive action against sexual abuse, reported Reuters/SABC HERE.

In February 2014, a United Nations committee issued a 'scathing indictment' of the Vatican’s handling of child sexual abuse cases, releasing a report that included criticism of Church teachings on homosexuality, gender equality and abortion, according to The Washington Post, HERE.

Francis defended Church efforts to combat sex abuse in a March 2014 interview, reported the BBC HERE.

Legionaries:

The fomerly influential Legionaries of Christ have fallen from grace, after revelations that their founder lived a shocking double life, involving sexual abuse. The Legionaries are 'Pope Francis’ problem now,' wrote John L. Allen Jnr in The Boston Globe HERE.

Appointments:

The Pope outlined a mission statement for his papacy, arguing the power of the Church is too concentrated in the Vatican, reported the ABC, HERE.

Francis continued reshaping the hierarchy by appointing his first group of cardinals with an emphasis on Asia, Africa and Latin America, and omitting traditional clerical careerists, according to The New York Times HERE.

Holy Mass with the New Cardinals at St Peter's can be watched HERE.

L'Osservatore Romano has biograhies of the new cardinals HERE.

Vatican finances:

In a major restructure, Francis selected Cardinal George Pell to lead the Vatican's new Secretariat for the Economy. Pell is also one of eight cardinals serving on a special commission advising the Pope on administrative overhaul and other issues. The New York Times has the story HERE.

An explanation of his new role written by Cardinal Pell appears in The Catholic WeeklyHERE.

Francis has convened a summit for the treasurers of religious institutes to put unusual focus on the wealth of the orders, reports the National Catholic Reporter, HERE.

Corruption:

In a Rio slum, Pope Francis denounced corruption and the 'culture of selfishness', reported Catholic News Service HERE.

He delivered a 'fire-and-brimstone sermon' against corruption in Rome in November, reported The TelegraphHERE.

World conflicts:

In his Christmas Day address, Pope Francis called for a peace in Syria, Iraq Central Africa and South Sudan, reported The IndependentHERE.

Francis discussed Syria and stressed the need to bring assistance to the civilian population with President Putin on his visit to the Vatican, reported The Telegraph HERE.

The Pope led calls for an end to violence in Ukraine, amid a government crack-down on protesters in February, reported The Catholic Herald HERE.

As Western powers mulled a tough response to Russia’s military advance into Ukrain, Francis urged world leaders to promote dialogue as a way of resolving the crisis, reports The Manila Bulletin, HERE.

Interfaith relations:

The Greek Patriarch attended a Papal Inaugural Mass for the first time since the Great Schism of 1054, as the National Catholic Register reported HERE.

Francis announced that he would be visiting the Holy Land and hold an ecumenical meeting with the representatives of the Christian Churches in Jerusalem, reported Al Jazeera HERE.

The Times of Israel has reported that Israeli Foreign Ministry sources say the May trip has been scrapped due to an ongoing strike by Israeli diplomats, HERE.

The Pope's old friend, Rabbi Abraham Skorka of Argentina has spent time in the Vatican, sharing meals, including on two Jewish festivals and the Sabbath at which the Rabbi said prayers in Hebrew, and discussed the promotion of dialogue and peace in the world, reported Vatican Inisder HERE.

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