Robert Mickens’ latest Letter From Rome published in La Croix International should give those who lament the lack of progress on the part of Pope Francis in ‘reforming the Church’ (which is, I readily admit, a loaded and ambiguous term) pause for thought. Rather than lamenting and consequently criticising Pope Francis, perhaps those calling for quicker ‘reform’ might recognise that if they wish to see they also need to recognise that such ‘reform’ will take a long time because of the very nature of the Second Vatican Council they appeal to.
Towards the end of the article, Mickens astutely writes:
… Pope Francis is day-by-day reforming the institution of the papacy and the paradigm of the global church by putting down the foundations for greater decentralization and a synodal re-structuring of authority and decision-making. He is setting up processes that protect and enhance the preaching of the kerygma (the kernel of Christian faith) as the source and summit of the church’s mission and identity, rather than focusing obsessively on moral teachings and “small-minded rules.”
Francis has taken up John Paul II’s appeal at the end of the Great Jubilee to launch out into the deep. He has put the church on a new journey far from the safe harbors or comfortable spaces of our crumbling old institutions and structures. It is not clear how or when it will arrive at some Promised Land. But we should be confident that this pope understands quite well that the church must move quickly to lay down new foundations that will position it to better adapt to the biggest (and currently underway) societal changes in the history of humanity. He rightly recognizes that the internal organization of the Vatican is small potatoes in the overall scheme of things.
But the Bishop of Rome cannot and must not try to do this on his own. And Catholics must not expect him to. Not only would it be a step to stifle the ecclesiological developments of the Second Vatican Council, but it would also be a contradiction of his very program of reform.
Read the entire article below.