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Five Years of Pope Francis: The Catholic Church in the Modern World

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Chatham House, London

Participants

Massimo Franco, Political Editor and Columnist, Corriere della Sera
Chair: Adam Ward, Deputy Director, Chatham House

Overview

Elected in Conclave five years ago following Benedict XVI’s resignation, Francis became what many considered to be the first post-Western Pope – a Latin American whose elevation symbolized the end of the dominance of Eurocentrism in the Catholic Church in general and the weakening of European and Italian power in the Conclave in particular.

His first years have been marked by great personal popularity and diplomatic energy, especially beyond Europe, where relations had previously been more frigid. At the same time, however, there is growing uncertainty over the future unity of the Catholic Church. With pedophilia in the Church remaining an open wound, splits around the Vatican’s diplomatic orientation showing, tensions growing between Pope Francis and North American bishops and the mood in Rome being particularly tense as Pope Francis’s reform agenda – especially with regard to Vatican finances – faces continuous setbacks. While few have dared speak out, questions about the future are growing. With the Pope’s inner circle being criticized for its casual nature and lack of transparency, Massimo Franco will analyse the last five years and set out what this might mean for Pope Francis in the future. Will the reformist pope manage to sustain his personal popularity? Or will his critics continue to grow louder and could the Catholic Church see a chasm and split emerge?

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