Pope Francis first five years, how successful?

Pope Francis

As he enters the sixth year of his pontificate, Pope Francis is in good health, good spirits and sustained by that inner peace that came to him during the conclave and has never left him, according to sources close to the 265th successor of Peter.

Many commentators around the world have sought to produce a balance sheet of his first five years as pope and have engaged in extended analyses.

Not a few in the Anglophone world have tended to use the question of how he is dealing with the sexual-abuse question as the unique measuring rod for judging whether his five years at the helm of the barque of Peter have been a success or not.

Of course this is an issue of the utmost importance for the life of the church and for his papal ministry, but a fair evaluation of Francis’ leadership of the church cannot be reduced to this or, indeed, to any single issue.

There are many other issues of enormous importance for the preaching of the Gospel and the future of the Catholic Church that must not be overlooked in a comprehensive analysis.

Issues that may be of great concern in one part of the world may not be so in another.

Francis has been first and foremost “a missionary pope,” who is determined to transform the church into “a missionary church.”

He believes in preaching the Gospel by action and if necessary by words.

He is a man of faith who inspires faith and gives hope, bringing the Gospel to life before our eyes.

When Francis became pope, the church was in deep crisis in the United States and elsewhere in the Western world, and many people felt uneasy about identifying themselves as Catholics.

That is no longer the case today. Francis has energized the church not only in the southern hemisphere but all over the Catholic world.

He has done so especially by his focus on mercy, repeatedly telling people that “the name of our God is mercy,” and that mercy and the poor are at the heart of the Gospel.

He moved the center of the Catholic Church to the periphery when, for the first time in history, he opened a jubilee, the Jubilee Year of Mercy, in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, in November 2015.

He continues his focus on mercy every Friday with different expressions of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Continue reading

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