Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Year with Francis

So, folks, it has been a year... and until the smoke went up, anyone who tried predicting any of this would've been sent to a mental hospital.

Sure, the 266th Bishop of Rome continues to ride a wave of goodwill in the wider world and across broad swaths of the church, while a vocal minority within the walls encounters new concerns at every turn. Whatever one's leaning, though, there's one thing we can all agree on – actually, two.

First, these days have been extraordinary proof of the degree to which the Papacy matters, and whether in failure or success, can command the world's attention like no other office. Second, in the immortal line of an earlier Italian-American of the same name as Papa Bergoglio, you just can't deny that, as Chairman of the Barque, this Francis likewise "did it his way"... and if anything, he's just warming up.

Even with Round Two now upon us, the aforementioned risk of perceived derangement for clearly seeing the road ahead continues to present itself... and, well, we'll just have to deal with it in short order. Today, however, belongs to a retrospective on this first year: the journey that gradually introduced Francis to the world and in the process, the new opening it created for the church in the work of pastoral conversion and missionary discipleship.

Below you'll find a "greatest hits" collection from the last year: ten mile-mark pieces along the way as the Pope's emphases on policy, governance and pastoral priorities – and the reaction to them – began to emerge. Published here in reverse chronological order, it's not as long nor comprehensive as Evangelii gaudium...but in any case, if there's one thing we've learned from Francis this year, it's that things often need to be repeated to be remembered.

As a "bonus round," those who haven't of yet would be remiss to let this day pass without reading the two major talks of recent days: the sweeping vademecum Bergoglio launched at his reconstituted Congregation for Bishops on 27 February laying out his identikit for the ideal appointee, and last week's vision statement on ministry to the priests of Rome.

Most of all, as the calendar turns into the second of this pontificate, let us pray...
O God,
who in your providential design
willed that your Church be built
upon blessed Peter,
whom you set over the other apostles,
look with favor, we pray,
on Francis, our Pope,
and grant that he,
whom you have made Peter’s successor,
may be for your people a visible source and foundation
of unity in faith and of communion.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
...and just like Year One, covering the road ahead can only be possible thanks to this readership's support: