The Italian Job

I think there is a very good reason that Pope Francis says to everyone “Pray for me” when he says goodbye to them…..Reyanna

by Massimo Faggioli, June 5, 2014, Commonweal Magazine Online

Can Pope Francis Manage His Local Opposition?

A few weeks after Benedict XVI announced his resignation, the political philosopher Giorgio Agamben published a short book called The Mystery of Evil: Benedict XVI and the End of Times. In that volume, Agamben calls the pope’s resignation a prophetic moment, and argues that it highlights the crisis of institutional legitimacy. His conclusions may be farfetched—an eschatological showdown between church and political power probably isn’t in the offing—but he does bring into focus the sense of crisis that shook the Vatican in the months leading to Benedict’s departure. A series of scandals—from Vatileaks to the Vatican bank—raised questions about Benedict’s administrative capacities, questions he himself seemed to answer when he chose to resign in February 2013. As the cardinals assembled in Rome to elect a new pope, curial reform became the conclave’s watchword. That is Francis’s mandate. It is also one of his greatest challenges. Whether he is able to rouse the church from its institutional coma depends entirely on his ability to manage his opposition.

Francis’s first year has been characterized by a carefully coded fight for the ground between the old guard and the new. An abstract debate about the “continuity or discontinuity” of Vatican II has been replaced by a conversation about concrete issues such as poverty and inequality. Francis has shown a willingness to discontinue old practices—for example, the Vatican officially prohibits priests from washing women’s feet on Holy Thursday, but that’s exactly what he did just weeks after his election. Francis’s new language and style have not been universally welcomed by the bishops, especially those in his backyard. Some of them silently resist these changes. (To continue reading, click Here.)


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