POPE FRANCIS: 6 YEARS AS A WORLD LEADER

As much as the calendar marks the anniversary of the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the pontificate, you can’t stop time and take a snapshot. In short: it is not time for assessments. Reality is in motion. However, it is possible to reflect on these years highlighting some basic characteristics of Francis’ action.

First of all, the Pontiff has given the Church a synodal “rhythm” through which in six years three synods (on family and on youth) were celebrated, a synodal encounter (on the protection of minors) was held and the Synod on the Amazon is in preparation. The latter will have — as is already well understood now — a universal value, certainly not just regional. Reform is not the gesture of an isolated Don Quixote, but is the fruit of a long process of involvement for the Church.

Having brought synodality back to the center of the life of the Church it was one of the seeds that has rapidly borne fruits: the active participation of all of the People of God in the life and mission of the Church.

Francis is at this point as well the only global leader who can give a message of hope to humanity. And in this regard, documents like the encyclical Laudato sì have led the Church on a collision course against those powers that are imprinting a nationalistic, populist and fundamentalist direction on the political dynamics of our world.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who, all things considered, has always lived with difficulty far from Buenos Aires, has completed in six years 27 apostolic trips in 40 countries of the world. The guiding idea of his trajectories was always clear and tied to the fact that the Church is and must be a “field hospital”. Francis has opened doors, beginning with that “holy” one in the places of greater tension in the world: from Bangui — favored over St Peter’s — to Ciudad Juarez, where the altar was only 80 meters from the border between the United States and Mexico. For the first time a Pope flew over China three times and landed on the Arabian peninsula, not far from Mecca. China and Islam are clearly two great themes of the Pontificate.

Francis’ action has led China and the Holy See to sign an historic agreement on September 22, 2018. Now difficulties are no longer such as to prevent Chinese Catholics from living in communion with each other and with the Pope. There where the Pope had been deprived of word and power, now, in the framework of an agreement, his proper role in the selection of pastors is recognized. The goal is ecclesial reconciliation so that the Gospel is preached.

To counter the logic of opposing fundamentalisms and “to demilitarize hearts”, the Pope has signed together with the Grand Imam of Al Ahzar an extraordinary “Document on human brotherhood”. He did so last February 4th at Abu Dhabi.

Processes “must mature, like flowers”, Francis said on the return flight from the Emirates.

Thanks to the fundamental values of the Gospel, moving and promoting these processes the Catholic Church today proves herself, for our torn world, a powerful mending and regeneration factor and thus rediscovers and confirms her eminently prophetic role on the stage of this world.