The retired head of the Vatican's Doctrinal Congregation said some media portrayals of Francis risk making him appear as a sign of division. Cardinal William Levada also said the German pontiff's decision to resign made it easier for future popes to do so.
- NCR Online
Speaking to The Irish Catholic newspaper during a visit to Dublin, Card. Levada said, 'I think there is a tendency -- maybe it's natural, although, sometimes I think it's either mistaken or malicious or something in between -- but there's a tendency to look at everything he (Pope Francis) does in contrast to Pope Benedict XVI or Pope John Paul II or both, and try to make a story out of that.
'Pope Francis does not meditate on trying to be different -- he is himself," the Caridnal said.
He rejected a 'certain tendency that I find in some of the media presentations: "Well, now we have a pope who does this, and he's contradicting what the previous pope did or he's turning things into a different story" and so forth. I think that's way overdone.' Card. Levada warned that 'this, ultimately, makes the pope less a sign of unity and a sign of division, which he is not.'
He said he is impressed by Pope Francis' 'reminders to the Church and the world about the poor, people who are easily forgotten or put aside out of our mind and vision.'
On the decision of Pope Benedict to resign, Levada said he believes that was 'a giant step in regard to the future of the church and the future of the papacy, so that this particular question can be resolved by any future pope because of what he (Benedict) has done.
'I think that's a relief, certainly for someone who is in the Sistine Chapel and sees his name being put forward as a future pope, to have that in the back of his mind,' he said.
As head of the doctrinal congregation, Levada was responsible for dealing with cases of sexual abuse by priests and religious against minors. He described the role of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI as 'decisive in helping us to meet the challenge.'
'We found that, far from a Vatican cover-up, it was the forward-looking and cooperative work of the Vatican that helped the church in Ireland, the United States and other places,' the Cardinal said.