Pope Francis told a group of recently appointed bishops that the world “is tired of charming liars” and that they should embody mercy in their dioceses and not be whiners who promote their own “vain crusades.”
The pontiff also told them to be wary of seminarians “who take refuge in rigidity” of practices. “There’s always something ugly behind it,” he said.
Francis made his remarks Sept. 16 in a speech to newly appointed bishops who have been taking part in an annual Vatican orientation course on their new job.
Next week, the conversation will change in America. All the media attention recently given to political figures will now shift to a moral leader who is changing the global public discussion about what is compassionate, just, good, and right — and Christian.
This is a fundamental spiritual shift that we deeply need in our country right now. Three major East Coast cities will have their typical traffic patterns and lodging arrangements severely disrupted. I’m not predicting an earthquake or a hurricane — instead, for only the tenth time in our nation’s history , the pope, spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics worldwide, will visit the United States.
The last papal visit was from Pope Benedict XVI in 2008. Pope Francis’ visit to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City, which will take place from September 22-27, is expected to be historic in terms of the crowds it generates, with well over one million people anticipated for the Philadelphia portion alone.
A new survey released from Pew Research Center, conducted in the lead-up to the pontiff’s visit, examined U.S. Catholics’ attitudes on family, marriage, and sexuality, as well as on issues close to the pope’s heart — concern for the poor, care for the environment, and forgiveness of sins. The results found Catholics “remarkably accepting of a wide variety of non-traditional families.”
This is not to say longstanding church teaching on marriage has changed — the church very much still upholds lifelong heterosexual monogamous marriage with children as the divine plan for coupleship, and nine-in-ten U.S. Catholics say this is the ideal arrangement. But large majorities now say other familial arrangements are acceptable, too.
According to the survey of U.S. Catholics, 85 percent say it is acceptable for a man and woman to live together as a couple outside of marriage, and 84 percent say it is acceptable for raise children in this arrangement. Two-thirds say it is acceptable for same-sex couples to raise children. And 70 percent say married couples who choose to not have children are choosing a lifestyle that is just as good as any other.
Pope Francis criticized what he called the “idolatry of money” on Sunday in a trip to one of the poorest regions of the European Union.
The pontiff, visiting the island of Sardinia off Italy’s western coast, departed from his prepared remarks to talk about his own family’s struggles as Italian immigrants in Argentina. Speaking on an island where more than half of workers under 30 are unemployed, Francis told the masses: “Don’t let yourselves be robbed of hope.”
For Catholics—and many others—what happens in Rome doesn’t stay in Rome. The seating of a new pope has the power to affect believers across the globe, in ways direct, indirect, and unpredictable. And when a surprising sea change occurs in a hide-bound, steeped-in-tradition place like the Vatican—the unexpected resignation of a pope, the selection of a Jesuit from the Americas as his replacement, and the powerful symbolism of a new leader who literally stoops to wash a Muslim woman’s feet—people of faith of all traditions sit up and take notice.
In these early days of Francis’ papacy, we asked three prominent Catholic thinkers and leaders to help us understand what it all might mean. How will the spirit of reform that has marked Pope Francis’ first few months in office affect the worldwide church? Will change at the top trickle down to parishes and neighborhoods here in the United States and elsewhere? And what will Francis’ leadership mean not only for Catholics, but for all people of faith engaged in the work of making justice and building peace? —The Editors
CATHOLICS AROUND THE WORLD are transfixed by Pope Francis. We love his simplicity of life, his humble faith, his welcoming attitude to all, and his way of being Christian in the contemporary world that takes its bearings from the poor. Lace and gilt are no longer fashion statements at the Vatican. From his small apartment, the pope speaks bluntly about worrying less about rules and more about love. An utterly refreshing breeze blows through the Catholic Church.
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The Catholic church is reeling from the several sexual abuse allegations that have come to light over the past three months. Downplaying the severity of this scandal will only further damage the already beleaguered church's image and credibility. Many in the media blame Pope Benedict XVI for the mismanagement of the sexual abuse crisis.