Massimo Franco analyses the last five years and sets 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?

21 February 2018


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


Elected 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.