Look Closely, Pope Francis' Reform Of The Catholic Church Has Already Begun

Leading by example can be more powerful than any doctrinal diktat.

Some tenderness - Pope Francis at his inaugural mass Tuesday morning.
Some tenderness - Pope Francis at his inaugural mass Tuesday morning.
Andrea Tornielli

VATICAN CITY - What is the power of the pope? Exactly what kind of power are we talking about? It is the power “of service.”

In these first days of the new pontificate, and Tuesday’s inaugural mass that officially begins that service, Francis has already given important and precise signs for the future.

On Monday, in the Casa Santa Marta, the new pope had a long and cordial meeting with the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I. This too was a sign charged with true significance.

Up until now, Papa Bergoglio has yet to refer to himself as the pope or the supreme pontiff, but rather always as the bishop of Rome. This choice is a clear signal that Francis wants to both improve the “collegiality” between the Vatican and the world’s Catholic bishops and foster greater “ecumenism” between Catholicism and other Christian faiths.

A pope who considers his principal mission to be the bishop of Rome, and thus “preside in charity,” sends a strong message toward his Orthodox brothers in the East.

Still, one should not be fooled by the explicit references to tenderness in his homily Tuesday, and his offering a poignant portrait of St. Joseph. Yes, Bergoglio is a simple man, who speaks of tender acts and God’s mercy, who wants a Church of “proximity” with the capacity to bow down before human misery, to understand ordinary men and women. But the fact that he is so natural being himself should not be mistaken for weakness.

“Ecclesia semper reformanda…” The Church must always be reforming itself, and Francis’ example, more than any single decision to institute change, is already setting off a renewed process of self-reform. If the pope does it this way, if he behaves like that, it will invite and remind everyone in the Church to follow him.

The faithful now have before their eyes a new Episcopal style; and they will look at their own parish priests, hoping to see reflections of the same sobriety.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!