The rise of ‘FOBs’ in the Vatican

Inner circle influence

During the Clinton Administration, the term FOB meant 'friend of Bill,' an intimate of the President who enjoyed access to the corridors of power. Now the Vatican has its own FOBs, writes John Allen.

- The Boston Globe

Today, Catholicism has its own emerging FOB class, in this case standing for 'friend of Bergoglio.' The reference is to those with personal ties to the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio - better known to the world as Pope Francis - who could be positioned to influence his papacy.

The degree to which those friends have the Pope’s ear makes the Vatican’s official chain of command less revealing these days about who’s driving the train in the Church than, say, the Pontiff’s Facebook account. (That is, it would be if Pope Francis were actually on Facebook.)

The latest FOB to pop up is Giovanni Traettino, leader of the Protestant 'Evangelical Church of Reconciliation.' The Vatican announced this week that Francis will travel on July 28 to the southern Italian city of Caserta to see Traettino, who became friends with Bergoglio a decade ago while serving in Argentina.

In Caserta, Francis will join Evangelicals and Catholics for prayer at Traettino’s church. Though not unprecedented, it will mark one of just a handful of occasions when a Pope has ventured into a Protestant church to pray.

The trip is part of a recent pattern of outreach from Francis to the Evangelical and Pentecostal worlds, in each case driven by people he knows.

In January, Francis sent a video message to a conference led by American Pentecostal Kenneth Copeland in which the Pope offered a 'spiritual hug.' That prompted a group of Evangelicals and Pentecostals to visit Rome, an event capped off when the Pontiff and televangelist James Robison high-fived over the need for Christians to have a personal relationship with Jesus.

FULL STORY ‘FOBs’ driving the train under Pope Francis (The Boston Globe)


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