Arbitrary actions by the Pope harm him and the Church

Francis repeatedly causes a stir with his spontaneous actions and statements. What seems likeable is, however, not unproblematic, because it reflects on the reputation of the Pope and the Church, comments Benedikt Heider.

While Pope Benedict XVI repeatedly stumbled over the alleged mistakes of his employees, Pope Francis often seems immune to any advice. However, what happens when the Pope acts without paying much attention to his authorities and advisors has recently become increasingly clear: During the Ukraine war, Francis not only once snubbed the attacked Ukraine with requests to speak about Russia and caused displeasure within the Vatican because he refused to name perpetrators and victims. Francis also irritated in the Middle East conflict when he generally condemned "terrorism" in the region, again without naming an aggressor. The Vatican press room tried – as so often – to repair the damage. And even if information about the papal health is no longer completely hidden, the Vatican's communication strategy often seems clumsy and is undermined by the pope. You can imagine the internal mood.

Francis acts spontaneously, deviates from the (speech) protocol and falls out of character. What seems likeable at first glance is increasingly becoming a problem: Francis is losing diplomatic reputation through ill-considered speech and actions, creating ambiguity and, last but not least, signaling to his staff that he sees their work as unnecessary or even useless. Even after ten years of pontificate, he shows little feeling for curial connections, processes and expertise.

Massimo Faggioli sees this approach to advice and experts as a new form of papalism. With a view to Francis' favorite activity, "synodality", this papal action should raise awareness. Francis appears to be demanding advice and cooperation, but he doesn't pay any attention to them. This discrepancy damages the reputation of the office and the already damaged institution of the church.


Cathcon:  Even the progressive have had enough.   It must be exhausting for them.