Our next pope “won’t be able to go back” on Francis’ reforms

The next pope won’t be able to ignore “seeds” planted by Pope Francis, according to the editor of the semi-official Vatican journal La Civiltà Cattolica.

Fr Antonio Spadaro SJ who is a confidant of Francis, told Herder Correspondenz magazine that whoever the next pope is, “He will continue to move forward.”

Spadaro – both Jesuit journalist and theologian says Francis does not have an abstract theological reform programme and a list of actions to be ticked off during his time in office.

That’s not to say Francis hasn’t achieved any reforms at all during his seven years as pope.

For Francis, true reform involves discernment and “it is in this spirit of searching that he proceeds, listening and meditating.”

Unlike bureaucrats, Francis makes his decisions during his morning devotions in his chapel, and not at his desk, Spadaro says.

What’s more, when he has an idea for reform, instead of going ahead and putting it into practice straight away, Francis prefers to pray about it and wait for spiritual confirmation.

If Francis does not receive the backing of the Holy Spirit for a reform idea, he does not consider the proposal mature.

But in those cases, Francis also does not foreclose on further discussions on the issue and does not exclude anything, Spadaro says.

Instead, Francis says “Let us go forward, let us continue to think about it! But he does not make a final decision.”

Spadaro says the relationship between Francis and his predecessor as Pope, Benedict XVI is marked by mutual respect and solidarity.

That mutual esteem, however, often comes under threat from certain circles in the Church who try to instrumentalise the emeritus pope and play him off against the reigning one.

“Traditionalist or hyper-conservative media distort Benedict’s teaching authority. One must feel sorry for him above all, because in this way his reputation is in some way soiled.”

Though Spadaro is one of the most-sought after interpreters of the current pontificate, he insists he is neither Francis’ advisor nor his ghostwriter.


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