It was five years ago today (March 13, 2013) that Jorge Mario Bergoglio walked onto the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica as the newly-elected Pope Francis. After five ballots, Francis became the leader of approximately 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide. Francis’ election as Pope was historical because he was the first Latin American, first Jesuit and the first to take the name of “Francis.”
From the onset, Pope Francis dispensed with tradition and perhaps set the tone for his pontificate in his first public action. Before extending his first blessing, he asked for prayers stating: “Now, I would like to give you a blessing, but first I want to ask you for a favor. Before the bishop blesses the people, I ask that you pray to the Lord so that he blesses me. This is the prayer of the people who are asking for the blessing of their bishop.”
In the past five years, Pope Francis’ leadership has had a profound impact on the Catholic Church and greatly influenced the secular world. Many Catholics and Vatican observers are viewing his fifth anniversary as sort of a “Francis Report Card Day.” Assessments or criticism of Pope Francis’ accomplishments, achievements or unfinished work often depend on who is doing the observing, i.e., “the eye of the beholder.”
John Allen, a long-time Vatican reporter/observer, noted: “Amid the rattle and hum of clashing world views and agenda, is there anything that can be said about Francis’ record after five years that’s truly objective? Perhaps it’s this: Love this maverick Pope or hate him, he’s undeniably relevant.”
“Francis at five years: Love him or hate him, this is one relevant pope” Click here to review John Allen’s article in Crux.
James Carroll, a regular journalist/contributor to the New Yorker Magazine, has written a commemorative article assessing Pope Francis’s leadership from the secular point of view. Click here to review “The Transformative Promise of Pope Francis, Five Years On” (The New Yorker Magazine)