Yesterday, Pope Francis celebrated his 79th birthday. And I am sure that the majority of Catholics, other Christians, and peoples of other faiths are all wishing him: “Ad multos annos!” (Many more years!) However, it cannot be denied that there are those within the Church who are hoping for a short pontificate. Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press has a interesting article posted on Crux; which looks into this undercurrent of hostility aimed at the Pope, by the every ones who are suppose to be assisting him.
When, in 2013, the College of Cardinals elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the papacy, the conventional wisdom was that they were looking for a reformer. They saw a Vatican Curia mired in scandal, inefficiency, and dysfunction. They expected Pope Francis to “clean the stables,” and reorganize the Curia to be more responsive to the needs of today’s universal Church. Shortly after his election, Pope Francis established a “Council of Cardinals”, one of it’s members is Boston’s own Cardinal Sean O’Malley OFM Cap. He gave it the task of proposing structural changes to the Curia, and other suggestions on dealing with issues affecting the Church. He began the structural reform of the Vatican financial institutions, appointing the strong willed Cardinal Pell of Australia to insure the reforms take hold.
At the same time, Pope Francis has said and done things that may have made some of the cardinal electors wondering what they have themselves into. Traditionalists are up arms at what they see as his reversal of liturgical trends put in place by his predecessors. Others are concerned that he is taking a more pastoral approach, at the cost of watering down Church teachings. And then there are those bureaucrats in the Curia, who are more interested in preserving their positions, perks, and power; then in actually serving the members of the Church.
I am among those who wish the Pope “ad multos annos;” but I fear that it may be a short pontificate. I am afraid that the expected reforms may not be finalized. And that Pope Francis may not have enough time to appoint those bishops and cardinals who will ensure that his reforms will survive his passing. Part of me wishes that he would spend more time in Rome; and not on these strenuous trips; that tax his health, and puts him in harms way.
However, the Pope will do, what he believes God is guiding him to do. And those of us who support him, and wish him well; will pray that God’s hand will be on him, protecting him, and strengthening him. “Ad Multos Annos!”