VATICAN CITY (AP) — So much for a short pontificate.
Pope Francis celebrates the 10th anniversary of his election Monday, far outpacing the “two or three” years he once envisioned for his papacy and showing no signs of slowing down.
On the contrary, with an agenda full of problems and plans and no longer encumbered by the shadow of Pope Benedict XVI, Francis, 86, has backed off from talking about retiring and recently described the papacy as a job for life.
History’s first Latin American pope already has made his mark and could have even more impact in the years to come. Yet a decade ago, the Argentine Jesuit was so convinced he wouldn’t be elected as pope that he nearly missed the final vote as he chatted with a fellow cardinal outside the Sistine Chapel.
“The master of ceremonies came out and said ‘Are you going in or not?’” Francis recalled in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “I realized afterward that it was my unconscious resistance to going in.”
He was elected the 266th pope on the next ballot.
Francis had a big learning curve on clergy sex abuse, initially downplaying the problem in ways that made survivors question whether he “got it.” He had his wake-up call five years into his pontificate after a problematic visit to Chile.
During the trip, he discovered a serious disconnect between what Chilean bishops had told him about a notorious case and the reality: Hundreds or thousands of Chilean faithful had been raped and molested by Catholic priests over decades.
“That was my conversion,” he told the AP. “That’s when the bomb went off, when I saw the corruption of many bishops in this.”
Francis has passed a series of measures since then aimed at holding the church hierarchy accountable, but the results have been mixed. Benedict removed some 800 priests, but Francis seems far less eager to defrock abusers, reflecting resistance within the hierarchy to efforts to permanently remove predators from the priesthood.
The next frontier in the crisis has already reared its head: the sexual, spiritual and psychological abuse of adults by clergy. Francis is aware of the problem — a new case concerns one of his fellow Jesuits — but there seems to be no will to take firm action
SIGNIFICANCE OF SYNODS
When the history of the Francis pontificate is written, entire chapters might well be devoted to his …read more