Pontificate where peculiar triumphs over predictable

Pope Francis (Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk)

After four years of Pope Francis' pontificate, there is a fragmentation within the Church that is causing concern, writes Tess Livingstone in The Australian.

Hundreds of posters were plastered around Rome over Easter, in praise of Pope Francis. That wouldn’t be surprising on its own if it wasn’t for the unusual source sponsoring the bills.

The Global Tolerance Initiative, a group started six months ago by Sheik Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, where floggings and stonings prevail under sharia law, named Francis as its “Global Champion of Tolerance Easter 2017”.

At least the posters were positive. In early February, Romans woke up to find hundreds of very different posters adorning the city’s walls, featuring a photograph of a stern-looking Pope and asking: “Where’s your mercy?” The posters referred to Francis’ intervention in the Knights of Malta and other actions he has taken against groups and individuals perceived as religiously conservative.

Yet again under this extraordinary pontificate, the peculiar has triumphed over the predictable, as it did a few weeks before Easter when Pope Francis put on a sheik’s robe, a gift from Iraqi political and religious leaders, who joked they had promoted him to “pope sheik”.

“How bizarre, when thousands of Christians are being killed,” a well-informed non-church-goer in Rome said.

After four years, dissatisfaction with Francis has emerged not only from traditional and conservative cardinals but some who backed him at the last conclave.

There is a fragmentation within Christianity’s Mother church that is causing concern. Significant political, economic and theological issues are in play. Some of the current “causes”, mainly of the green-Left variety being promoted by the Vatican, for example are highly controversial.

The recent Vatican conference on “biological extinction”, for example, promoted a radical, anti-development agenda reminiscent of Castro’s Cuba. Speakers included US population control doomsayer Paul Ehrlich, who appeared despite a petition with more than 10,000 signatures urging Francis to cancel the invitation.

On the positive side, Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher is helping Francis achieve one of his most worthwhile social justice goals, the eradication of slavery and human trafficking, which the Pope has rightly declared an “open wound” in the modern world.

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Controversial reforms of Pope Francis may destroy him (The Australian)