CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 October 2018

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The pope’s men

Reforming the Church was the demand when the College of Cardinals elected the new pope in 2013. The reasons for this were obvious. The Catholic Church was facing numerous scandals related to sexual abuse, misappropriation of finances, high-handedness of the Church leadership any many more! 
 
What awaited Pope Francis was a reception that Jesus had in Nazareth when he reached his hometown after kicking off his public ministry in Capernaum. The religious authorities rejected him because Jesus chose to walk away from the misleading traditions and interpretations of the scriptures. The leaders at the time of Jesus believed that he was wrong and that they had a responsibility to correct him! 
 
This has a very clear application today. There are many in the Church who refuse the reforms intended by the pope and believe that they have an obligation to correct him. Since the day of his election, Pope Francis chose to take the road less frequented and his detractors labelled him the wrong pope! 
 
The “we have seen it all” attitude in the Roman Curia remains a hard nut to crack. During his Christmas greeting to the Curia on December 21 last year, the pope lamented that “traitors” stood in the way of reforms and made any change as hard as cleaning Egypt’s Sphinx “with a toothbrush.” Yet, opposition has not deterred him from his mission.
 
Understanding the style of Pope Francis, no one differs on one thing: the change is happening, even though it is slow! A visible manifestation of his style of reform lies in how Pope Francis has chosen his cardinals over the years. Over the past four years, he has appointed 61 cardinals from 43 countries and this year he will create 14 more—11 of whom will be able to vote in a conclave to elect his successor. This will bring the total number of electors up to 126. 
 
The 2018 class of cardinals, hails from 11 different countries and will be created during the consistory on June 29, the feast day of Ss. Peter and Paul.  
 
A majority of Pope Francis’ band of cardinals comes from the “peripheries”—insignificant regions in the world. In many cases those regions and dioceses never had a cardinal before. He eschewed many existing practices and picked any bishop he liked. He chose the person rather than the see! Thus we have now cardinals from Pakistan, Peru, Madagascar and Japan. 
 
In his latest list of cardinals-elect, one is not a bishop: Spanish missionary and superior general emeritus of the Claretian Missionaries, Father Aquilino Bocos Merino, was named “in appreciation for his contributions to the Church and in recognition to the congregation.” He was ordained Titular Archbishop of Urusi on  June 16 prior to his elevation as a cardinal on June 29 June. Cardinal-elect Bocos has said his appointment confirms the pope’s determination to keep religious orders at the centre stage of the Church’s life and mission.
 
The pope is bringing in his desired changes not just through his life and teachings, but also by finding people on whom he can rely to carry out the reforms that he has initiated even after he is gone. 
 
The spark of fire that began in Capernaum was neither doused by the cold-hearted rejection in Nazareth nor by the horrific crucifixion in Jerusalem. Twenty centuries down the line, the story continues! The Vicar of Christ carries on with the mission and the faithful shall rally behind him. jose