Francis celebrates ten years as Pope – yay or nope?


Jeon Han

Pope Francis hit his first milestone of a decade as the leader of the Catholic Church. (Courtesy / Wikimedia Commons)

Tom Canuel, Crier Staff

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected by the college of cardinals in the Vatican in March 2013 and took the name Pope Francis. Last month, Pope Francis hit his first milestone of a decade as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. On-campus and throughout the world, Catholics have reflected on the impact, momentum, and immense controversies surrounding his papacy.

On a positive end, Pope Francis has been known for reaching out to often marginalized groups of people in the Church, including people with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ Catholics, migrants, and indigenous populations. His first papal encyclical titled Laudato Si was the first papal encyclical to directly and purposefully address climate change and the responsibility of the Church to be “stewards of the earth.” 

He has traveled all over the world for purposes including visiting the U.S. in 2015 and Canadian indigenous populations last July. His meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of the Orthodox Church was historic and resulted in a joint declaration between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches to overcome obstacles. Finally, his work on a global synod on synodality to hear from all Catholics has allowed lay persons a voice in matters that the Vatican will have to encounter soon. 

Professor Marc Rugani of the theology department emphasized the strides Francis has made in encountering vulnerable populations. “His pastoral approach and focus on the preferential option for the poor and vulnerable has been a moment for re-engagement with many, including members of the LGBTQ+ community, divorced Catholics, and those harmed by institutional ecclesial-political alliances.” 

Director of Campus Ministry Kat O’Loughlin agreed. “For ten years, Pope Francis has led with love and humility, and has brought an incredible pastoral approach to the papacy.” 

However, Pope Francis’ tenure has also surrounded controversy and inaction. A lack of concrete and effective reforms have frustrated many Catholics, culminating in an article written to the National Catholic Reporter by David Clohessy of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

Another controversy has grown over restrictions of the traditional Latin Mass in his 2021 Motu Proprio. This document placed greater restrictions on how the Mass is celebrated and where, leaving the decision to allow the Latin Mass to bishops governing their particular diocese. 

Opinions around campus of Francis’ pontificate are wide. 

Rugani stated, “Notably, he has too quickly dismissed increasing resistance of many who favor traditional Catholic liturgy and conservative interpretations of moral doctrine.” Rugani also noted how Pope Francis’ reforms of the Vatican bank “have continued to be marred by scandal.”

However, even with these controversies, many are looking forward to what will come from Pope Francis in the future. O’Loughlin emphasized the inspiration she takes from Pope Francis. “I am especially moved by his requests of church leadership to be ‘shepherds with the smell of sheep.’ He continues to inspire me in my own ministry work, and I am hopeful he continues to provide healing and unity for the Church and world.”

Rugani also focused on his hope for the next leg of Francis’ papacy. “After Francis, I hope to see greater representation of a truly ‘catholic’ Church that celebrates the gifts and experience of those around the world for the sake of glorifying God and serving our brothers and sisters in the model of Christ.”