Francis and Benedict – Brothers in Arms

Francis and Benedict – Brothers in Arms February 3, 2015

Benedict and FrancisJohn Allen’s Vatican round up is perceptive, objective and informed as usual.

This week he focuses on the harmony between Pope Francis and Benedict. The secular press would have us believe the fanciful narrative that Francis is a radical reformer who is turning over the tables of the staid, strict and dour old codger Benedict.

Allen shows that most of Francis’ initiatives are, in fact, continuations of policies and principles set in place by Benedict.

Here are just a few of the areas where Francis has picked up the baton from Benedict:

Climate change/the environment: As the world awaits Francis’ forthcoming encyclical letter on ecology, it’s worth remembering that Benedict XVI devoted so much attention to the environment that he was dubbed the “Green Pope.” Among other measures on his watch, the Vatican signed an agreement to become Europe’s first carbon-neutral state (albeit a tiny one) by replanting a stretch of Hungarian forest to offset its carbon use, and installing solar panels atop the Paul VI Audience Hall.

Financial clean-ups: Francis has made avoiding future financial scandals a linchpin of his Vatican reform. The clean-up began under Benedict, the first pope to open the Vatican to outside secular inspection through the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering agency Moneyval. It was also Benedict who launched a new financial watchdog agency under the leadership of Swiss anti-money laundering expert René Bruelhart, and who triggered a review of accounts at the Vatican Bank.

Child sexual abuse: Francis has committed to “zero tolerance” for sexual abuse and has created a new Commission for the Protection of Minors to lead the charge. Here, too, he’s building on Benedict’s lead, who defended “zero tolerance” while he was a Vatican official and made it the Church’s official policy as pope. Benedict was the first pope to meet with victims and the first to apologize for the crisis in his own name. He also moved aggressively to weed abusers out of the priesthood, laicizing some 400 priests facing abuse charges in his last two years in office alone.

I have written extensively on this blog and at Aleteia on the Francis-Benedict balance and how their two names reflect two mentalities in the church: Benedictine and Franciscan. St Francis–Il Poverello–the reformer, the extrovert, simple man of the people and Benedict–the scholar monk, the introvert, the contemplative. The two complement one another and it is more a comment on our society than on the two popes that the extrovert is the one who is more popular. Not that it matters…speaking for all introverts–we don’t care two hoots about popularity anyway.

Go here to read Allen’s full post, which also clarifies the African’s position in the Vatican, the church’s stance on women and some interesting comments about plastic surgery.

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