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Devotees, Critics Grow Increasingly Vocal About Pope Francis

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By    |   Friday, 29 May 2015 12:35 PM

About two years into his papacy, Pope Francis has evoked strong feelings among his church’s faithful.

Devotees laud him for being a reformer who is moving the church into the modern age, while critics, mainly traditional Catholics, are troubled by the pontiff’s "breaks with tradition" and complain that he is "too authoritarian" and that "he doesn't know enough about matters of doctrine," Spiegel Online reports.

Both sides have grown increasingly vocal about the Catholic Church’s leader, who was elected in a papal conclave on March 13, 2013. Much ado has been made about his plans for the church and the legacy he wants to leave.

Supporters praise him for dedicating his church to serving the poor and tackling thorny issues that are both religious and political, including homosexuality, gay marriage, the conflict in the Middle East, and U.S.-Cuba relations.

"He is letting outside experts reorganize the scandal-rocked Vatican Bank," according to Spiegel. "He is having the reform of the Curia pushed through by cardinals who previously had little to do with the governing body. He encourages the church to talk about family, about marriage, about sexuality, and doesn't get tired of arguing for more compassion and solidarity for the poor and the marginalized, whether he's in Lampedusa or Copacabana."

The pope’s mainstream appeal to Catholics, non-believers and the media is also unique, according to the publication.

"In his first year, Francis appeared on the covers of both Time and Rolling Stone," Spiegel reports. "Business magazine Fortune named him the world's greatest leader" and The Economist raved that Francis was on the verge of reinventing 'the world's oldest multinational.'"

German novelist Martin Mosebach accuses Pope Francis of bucking tradition to "make his mark at the expense of the church."

The pontiff’s beatification over the weekend of assassinated Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero has stirred controversy, according to the Los Angeles Times, which quoted papacy expert and author Elisabetta Pique as saying the move represents another clear sign of where he wants to direct his papacy: "a church with pastors that are close to the people and especially to the marginalized and those who suffer most."

A right-wing death squad assassinated Romero as he said Mass during El Salvador’s violent civil war in 1980, the Times reported. Romero strongly advocated for a social revolution, speaking out about poverty and social injustice.

Sicilian Jesuit priest Antonio Spadaro, editor in chief of the Jesuit newspaper Civiltà Cattolica, opined that "the question of where to steer the church is not the pope's top priority."

"It's very possible that he himself doesn't even know," Spadaro told Spiegel. "He is neither conservative nor progressive, he's not an ideologist he's more radical in the literal sense a person searching for roots."

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About two years into his papacy, Pope Francis has evoked strong feelings among his church's faithful.
Pope Francis, devotees, critics, homosexuality, gay marriage
Friday, 29 May 2015 12:35 PM
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