[Editors note: This is part two of Crux Rome Bureau Chief Ins San Martns look back at 2021. Part one was devoted to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Catholic Church.]
ROSARIO (Argentina) Pope Francis took advantage of being in the Vatican for a prolonged pandemic and focused his energy on his health and the ongoing efforts to reform Church central government.
Never forget American holidays. Sunday, July 4Francis had to have major intestinal surgery. Nearly half of his colon was removed. This physically slowed down the energizer bunny popes, at the least during the summer months, and well into the European autumn.
His planned surgery at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital was to address symptomatic diverticular stasis of his colon. This is a condition where bulges form in the large intestinal wall that can cause narrowing and bloating.
He spent 10 days in hospital before he returned home. It was the first time Pope Francis was admitted to the hospital, and the first major health crisis for the now 85-year old pontiff since 2013. He had cataract surgery in 2019 and it wasn’t his first surgery.
His recovery from surgery took longer than expected and this undoubtedly influenced the decision not to attend the COP26 summit, Glasgow, Scotland in early November. In an interview with Spanish radio COPE months before, he stated that his health was the only thing that could stop him from going.
Caring for creation and human fraternity
In October, two of the pillars that Francis pontificate stands for, interreligious dialog and combating climate change, were in perfect harmony. Vatican hosted leaders of world faith traditions. Together, they signed an appeal addressed directly to the political leaders who worked at the United Nations summit of Glasgow on the future of the environment.
The appeal urges the world to reach net-zero carbon emissions by the end of the year to limit global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. It also presses wealthy nations to increase their climate action and financial support for vulnerable countries to combat climate change. It also calls on governments to be more ambitious in transforming to clean energy and sustainable land use, with eco-friendly foods and responsible financing.
These faith groups included the Catholic Church and Orthodox Church, Protestant denominations and Sunni, Shiite Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Taoists, and representatives of Zoroastrianism and Confucianism.
A similar group, which included many of the same leaders, issued an appeal for a Global Compact on Education the next day.
Francis spoke of education Accepting the other person as they areWith no judgment nor discrimination and upholding women’s, children’s and the most vulnerable rights. This was something he acknowledged wasn’t always respected in the past.
Despite being years in the making the two-weeks negotiations in Glasgow were mostly negative. At least, that’s according to the leader and largest Catholic coalition working for the protection of what Francis calls our common homeland.
Unfortunately, the commitments that were expected have not been made. Director of the Laudato Si Movement in Argentina, Tomas Insua.
If Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 document was one of his signature decisions, Summorum Pontificum(Of The Supreme Pontiffs) was meant to be an olive branch for traditionalist Catholics, who wanted to celebrate the older, preVatican II Latin Mass. Traditionis Custodes(Custodians to Tradition), which was issued in July, rolled back those permissions, and added some new restrictions, was equally important.
Days before ChristmasThe pope doubled his efforts to discredit the old Latin Mass. He prohibited the celebrations of some sacraments following the ancient rite.
Decembers document was composed of questions and answers.
The new instruction encourages seminary teachers, in an apparent attempt to discourage seminarians from learning the old Rite, to guide their students to a deeper understanding and experience of liturgical reform as called for by the Second Vatican Council.
This triofecta demonstrates that Francis will not be constrained by the traditionalist camp’s backlash when it comes the liturgy.
The century’s trial
Although it was presented as the greatest sign of a Vaticans justice reform and as an honest attempt to clean up the mess, the sprawling indictment against 10 individuals, including Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, issued in effect by the Vaticans promoters for justice might prove to be the biggest bust in tribunals history.
The Vatican’s civil tribunal ordered that the defendants be tried for the accusations. They focus on a $400 million failed real estate deal by the Secretariat of State, which included the purchase of an ex-Harrods warehouse in the upscale London area of Chelsea.
The trial was hailed by Vatican media as a landmark in its scope and because it featured a cardinal among the defendants. This was seen as the ultimate proof of Pope Francis’ financial reforms.
Despite the increasing mistakes made by both the prosecutors and the prelate public spat among Becciu, Australian Cardinal George Pell, this trial is well on its way towards becoming the shipwreck.
Pell accused the Italian reformer of being a major roadblock to reform. Becciu countered by pointing out that Pell knows more about the Italian than anyone. The pain and suffering caused by unfair accusationsRefers to his trial, guilty verdict, and final acquittal in relation to child abuse allegations in Melbourne.
The main issue is a series audio and video recordings made in 2005 by prosecutors of one their key witnesses. They first refused to give them to defense lawyers as part the discovery process. After repeated court orders, they submitted redacted forms with approximately two hours of missing material.
The COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions meant that the COVID-19 council of cardinals, which advises Pope Francis on reforming the Roman Curia, had to meet virtually and only travel to Rome in December.
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, MumbaiIndia, one member of the council, stated CruxThey had already given the final draft for the new Vatican constitution to John Paul IIs shortly after the meeting was over. Pastor BonusFrancis, and that the pope was examining it, making it personal. The process, which also included feedback from all major Curia offices, took longer than expected. It has now become the elephant in a room.
Rumours of a new constitution soon dropping were heard almost every quarter in 2021. The strongest was that Francis would announce the due date or release it during his remarks to curia just before Christmas. The document is still unknown, even though the ninth year of pontificate is about to begin.