Pope Francis’ 80th birthday

From The Guardian, Saturday 17 December 2016

 Mercy is the prime gospel value for Francis. It has been the dominant theme of his time as pope. During his Year of Mercy, which ended last month, Francis made that concrete with a series of private visits to vulnerable and marginalised groups. He ended with an encounter – to the discomfit of traditionalists – with men who left the priesthood to marry, and with their wives and children, too.“We have to meet people where they are,” he has said. This pope is playing a long game. He has refused to reply to the four cardinal critics but has indirectly attacked them for rigidity, legalism, psychological inadequacy and generally behaving like the Pharisees who tried to trap Jesus with trick questions in the gospels. Publicly, he has declared himself unworried by a vociferous minority. “I’m not losing sleep over it,” he told an interviewer recently, adding that he would continue to follow the path of the second Vatican council, which turned the church away from sacramental introspection towards engagement with the wider world – a reform that many conservatives have spent the past four decades trying to undo.

Instead, the Pope has been quietly moving to restore a more moderate tone to the church. He has just sacked all the conservatives from the body that governs Catholic worship. He bypassed the three leading rightwing US archbishops who expected red hats when he created 19 new cardinals last month. And the head of the Vatican’s main working court this week declared that the four cardinal critics could be stripped of their red hats.

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