Pope Francis celebrated the 47th anniversary of his priestly ordination on Tuesday 13th December.
He will soon mark another milestone, when he
turns 80 years old on Saturday 17th December.
As this significant year
comes to an end, we take a look back at some of the Pope’s highlights
over the past twelve months, which include six overseas visits and the
Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Susy Hodges spoke to John Allen, editor of Crux and author
of nine books on Vatican and Church affairs, about what the legacy of
the Pope’s activities and documents might be at the end of 2016.
Allen is one of the world’s leading Anglophone commentators on the
Reflecting on the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Allen remarked that the Pope
would probably call it the “peak moment” of his papacy, during which
the message about the importance of mercy in the Church was revivified.
He added that the call for every diocese around the world to spend time
carrying out concrete works of mercy could be thought of as the most
significant “lasting impact” of the Jubilee Year.
When asked about the Pope’s own works of mercy during the Jubilee,
such as meeting with prisoners and those who had left the priesthood,
Allen asserted that the Pope surely aimed to “set a tone” and
“recalibrate” the image of leadership in the Church.
Moving on to speak about the Holy Father’s Pastoral Visits in 2016,
Allen suggested that the most striking might be the shortest; the
one-day trip to the Greek island of Lesbos in April.
According to him,
this visit displayed the overarching themes of the Year of Mercy:
ecumenism and reaching out to the peripheries. Pope Francis met with the
Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and the Archbishop of Athens and
all Greece during the visit to the island, and he brought refugees back
to the Vatican with him onboard the papal plane.
Allen went on to call the publication of Amoris Laetitia,
the Pope’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation, “groundbreaking”, both
because the document is “magnificently pastoral”, and because it is
Referring to the question about whether to allow the
divorced and civilly remarried access to the sacraments, Allen suggested
that the Holy Father wants to see how the document would be interpreted
around the world.
Allen was also asked about the ongoing reforms in the Roman Curia,
and about the significant anniversary and birthday that the Holy Father
celebrates in 2016.
He reflected on the Pope’s “very active” lifestyle,
suggesting that he derives most pleasure from “reconnecting with his
priestly roots”, seeing himself as the “world’s parish priest’.