Vatican City. According to countryaah, the current population of Holy See is 812. Pope Francis’s three guiding stars – mercy, the global role of the church and ecumenism – were manifested in action in 2016, the year the Pope had previously declared a holy year in the sign of mercy. The global role of the Church has been highlighted through the Pope’s involvement in the war in Syria and also reflected in this year’s cardinal appointments.
We saw the ecumenical engagement in Sweden when Pope visited Lund at the end of October to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. It became a historical moment in Lund’s cathedral when the ecumenically minded pope and the chairman of the Lutheran World Federation signed pledges of cooperation and friendship in a joint document.
Later in the fall, the Pope also put his word behind the Catholic Church’s role in world politics as he named new cardinals from countries that the Pope himself calls “the Church’s peripheries,” small, remote states with few Catholics such as Mauritius, New Guinea and Malaysia.
Even in cases where the pope chooses to appoint Italians as cardinals, he often finds his favorites far from traditional places of recruitment, such as the big cities’ archbishop’s seats. The same happened at the 2016 appointments when the Vatican’s diplomat in Syria, Mario Zenari, was elevated to cardinal for his almost ten-year deed in the war-torn country. It is not common for cardinals to be picked up by the nunties, the Catholic Church diplomats.
Pope Francis’s involvement in world politics has his focus on countries at war and on the victims of the war and coincides with a view where he has resembled the church at a field hospital that is supposed to work among the people. Francis’ strong emphasis on compassion has in some cases led to misunderstandings, where the Pope, in the sign of mercy, may have seemed to deviate from the Catholic Church’s proper teaching. This applies, for example, to the pope’s decision to extend the right he gave priests to give to women who have done the forgiveness of sins during the holy year. However, the Pope’s gesture of pity does not mean that he has weighted one inch from the Church’s tenet that abortion is a serious sin.
The conservative establishment of the Catholic Church has nothing to worry about as far as the Pope’s doctrinal cleanliness is concerned. However, he has caused great concern in the papal administration, the Curia. When Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope in March 2013, the Vatican was shaken by corruption scandals, and the new pope’s first task was to clean up the morass. A year after taking office, an action plan on the table was devoted to ending corruption and money laundering within the church’s financial system. The reforms that the Pope has so far carried out are considered so pervasive that the backward forces in the Vatican’s government that thought they could bid their time may have already lost the game.