A year after his election, Pope Francis’ style has won him many admirers. There has been a change in the way the Catholic Church communicates, but how deep does it go?
Euronews looks back on the his first 12 months and forward to his second year.
Euronews’ Fabien Farge spoke to Archbishop Philippe Barbarin about Francis’ first year. He started by asking him about his general view of the new pontiff.
Archbishop Philippe Barbarin: “We never imagined that he’d have such energy . When he was elected, we knew it would be a change because he was from Latin America. This was like a new world. You know that 40 percent of the world’s Catholics live in Latin America. So it is makes sense that a pope comes from there .
euronews: “The pope’s style, is it just in his communication or is it truly part of his personality?”
Barbarin: “Life has become simpler. He says: ‘Why ride in beautiful Mercedes given to the Pope when I need a car? A car isn’t made to look good, it’s made to carry us. So let it carry me. The simpler things are, the better’.”
euronews: “Beyond style and form, there’s the content of the Church, the word of the Church. Has this fundamentally changed over the past year under Pope Francis?”
Philippe Barbarin: “Not in its dogmas or its sacraments. We have only one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Sometimes we’re criticised. People say: ‘You’re trained, you’re formatted’. I say no. Pope Benedict XVI was one way and Pope Francis is completely different. Pope John Paul II was totally different again. Fundamentally, nothing changes – that Jesus is the Saviour of the world. The gospel is a light for all nations, a real source of joy. “
euronews: “Could you pinpoint specific reforms?”
Barbarin: “ No. Because he’s so determined, he took very few decisions. Look at his first decision, his secretary of state. He chose someone 25 years younger – Parolin, who’s very good at external relations, foreign affairs and the like. After that, what’s come out in economic affairs. He’s trying to make the finances more transparent. It’s always difficult. As soon as there are grasping hands – anywhere in the Church or State, all over the world.”
euronews: “There have been so many cases of paedophilia in the Church. What are your feelings after the UN criticised the Vatican for not having done enough on such a sensitive and important issue?”
Barbarin: “One day, a national education inspector told me: ‘I wish the schools would do what the Church has done because there are many cases of child abuse within the school system too’.
“Within the Church, it’s a catastrophe! Maybe the scandal is even bigger within a Church – because when people preach the holiness of God and do the opposite, they are even more judged. In any case, we acted quickly.
“Just one case is a monstrosity, I agree with you, so I’m glad these things are being said and are being fought with the same energy. To the extent that the UN is angry, that makes us feel good! The fact that the UN is angry with us is a good thing because it makes us keep fighting with the same determination shown by Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis. On this subject, there’s no doubt. I’d like others to do all they can because it’s a scourge on society that’s not limited to the Church.
euronews: “Does Pope Francis share the same hope as his predecessors?”
Barbarin: “Yes, I think so. An older man said to me a while ago: ‘I’m content. I will die soon , but I have seen three popes. The pope of hope, John Paul II. Then the the pope of faith, Benedict XVI, who taught us faith, transmitted faith and served his faith with finesse and delicacy. Now I see the pope of love.”
Euronews also sat down with Christian Terras, editor of the religious affairs magazine Golias, to get his views on Pope Francis’ first year.
Terras says the biggest change Pope Francis has brought is in his “style of behaviour”.
“He was elected precisely because of this style, I think this really needs to be made clear. Jorge Bergoglio was elected to restore the image of the church – which had been damaged disastrously towards the end of the pontificate of Benedict XVI,” Terras said.
Terras expects that Francis will have a “more cautious” approach than his predecessors on the controversial issues of gay marriage and abortion.
On homosexuality, Terras had this comment about Pope Francis: “He’s not going to say, ‘It’s unnatural’. He’ll say, ‘Who am I to judge?’ Equally, he’s not going to say from Rome, ‘I am against marriage for all’.”