Everyone, it seems, has an opinion about Pope Francis. So is the current pontiff a radical, a conservative, or just a Christian of the sort we haven’t seen publicly in a while? Amruta Slee reports for Radio National.
Since his ascension in 2013, Pope Francis has become a lightning rod for criticism and controversy, with conservatives faulting his pronouncements on homosexuality, income disparity and the environment.
He has openly criticised the Vatican for its "pathology of power," its careerism and "spiritual narcissism."
Francis put noses out of joint with attempts to fill key Vatican positions with moderates. He’s criticised the Curia for, among other things, its "theatrical severity and sterile pessimism."
Ever since he was elected as Pope, Francis has set an agenda for the Church. His comments on gays in the Church ("Who am I to judge?") , his brokering of the relationship between Cuba and America, his commitment to ending poverty and income inequality, and his forthcoming encyclical on the environment which will acknowledge climate change, have raised eyebrows and generated strong reactions among conservative pundits and clergy.
His comments regarding "responsible parenting" have been seen by some as the beginning of a discussion about birth control.
After his comments on not judging homosexuals, commentator Michael Brendan Doughtery wrote in The Week that Catholics must learn to resist popes and that the duty of believers is "not just to rebuke and correct those in authority ... but to throw rotting cabbages at them or make them miserable."
Does all this really make him a radical, though?
It depends on who you ask. "In doctrinal matters Francis is no radical, no reformer. He is strongly pro-life and an ardent supporter of traditional family values," writes Eamon Duffy in The New York Review of Books.
Duffy points out that Francis opposed same sex marriage bills in Argentina, but at the same time supported civil unions.
Moreover, he has made few strides on the issue of the ordination of women.
Yet his utterances seem to send conservatives into an apoplexy.
FULL STORY How radical is Pope Francis really? (ABC Radio National)