Pope Francis 10 years on: Reformer faces criticism from conservatives

Pope Francis 10 years on: Reformer faces criticism from conservatives

Since the day of his election 10 years ago Pope Francis’s papacy has differed from his predecessors. Being the first Roman pontiff from Latin America and the first to name himself after St Francis of Assisi were some of the early signs of the change he would bring about within the Church. His reforms and comments on climate change and poverty have made headlines around the world.

He has been working tirelessly to foster relations with the Islamic world, becoming the first pope to visit Iraq.

“During these past 10 years we have witnessed the largest redistribution of power between cities, countries and continents in the history of the contemporary church,” says Piero Schiavazzi, professor of Vatican Geopolitics at Rome University. “The real power of the church lies within the group of 120 cardinals who are in charge of electing a new pope. The overall number of cardinals coming from the Western world has reduced and therefore, the geopolitical influence of the West has decreased whereas that of the Eastern world has increased.”

But many in the conservative wing of the Roman Curia have long criticized Pope Francis. We met Franca Giansoldati. She recently released a book she wrote with Cardinal Muller. He is considered to be an open critic of Pope Francis.

“There has always been right and left, conservatives and progressives in the church but a compromise has always been reached between the two sides,” says Giansoldati, Vatican correspondent for Il Messaggero. “According to conservatives, Pope Francis has not operated in this way.”

Criticism against Pope Francis has to a certain extent intensified since the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, as well as rumours about his possible resignation.

“Pope Francis doesn’t intend to resign,” says Giansoldati. “In the book Cardinal Muller and I wrote, Muller highlights the fact that his resignation would not be beneficial to the unity of the Church. And Muller, despite being critical of Pope Francis, doesn’t want him to step down.”

Pope Francis has had to lead the Church through some of the darkest times of the past few years. From the pandemic to the war in Ukraine. The Pontiff has made countless appeals and has condemned the conflict expressing interest to visit both Ukraine and Russia as part of the Holy See’s efforts to bring an end to the ongoing conflict.


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