Pope Francis: The Mask Comes Off

The start of the Synod of bishops last week coincided with a definitive paradigm shift in the pontificate of Pope Francis. After ten years, having almost completed the generational transition in the College of Cardinals and Roman Curia, Pope Francis emerged without a mask, projecting his ideas and mentality. He no longer needs to make compromises or find balance. He says and does what he thinks is right without worrying about the consequences.

The signs of this paradigm shift had already become evident with the Traditiones Custodes and then the responses to the dubia on Amoris Laetitia. In that case, Pope Francis was not afraid to make a radical break with what had been done previously and with the past, almost imposing his vision of the Church even on realities that perhaps bore much fruit. Then, there was the decision to reform Opus Dei, which effectively abolished the institution of personal prelatures as John Paul II had envisaged them and radically changed the structure of Opus Dei. And even before that, it is worth remembering that the Praedicate Evangelium, the constitution reforming the Curia, had been published suddenly, without warning, without translations, and with a press conference that only later explained its scope.

Last week, however, the paradigm shift became complete, as demonstrated by three developments that seem separate but are instead intimately connected:

  • The response to the dubia of five cardinals, representing the five continents, on some doctrinal questions that have recently arisen;
  • The response to the dubia raised by Cardinal Dominik Duka, archbishop emeritus of Prague, on applying the exhortation Amoris Laetitia;
  • The publication of the exhortation Laudate Deum, which is an update of Laudato Si.

The responses to the dubia were written by Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez, prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, and submitted to the Pope. The Laudate Deum is a text that is written entirely by Pope Francis, so much so that the original is in Spanish, and there is not even, at least for now, a so-called editio typica in Latin.

These three developments show that the Pope is no longer afraid of coming out into the open and that he intends to say precisely what he thinks. Ultimately, the decision to call his friend Fernandez to Rome was also born from the need for help to carry forward his agenda of renewal of the Church.

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