2014-12-24 17:21:00

Leading Vatican watcher reviews papal highlights of 2014

(Vatican Radio) 2014 has been another action-packed year for Pope Francis and the Vatican and in the words of a leading Vatican commentator the Pope remains the world’s top news-maker. So, inside the Vatican what were the highlights of the past year and what more are we learning about the priorities of Pope Francis and the direction in which he is leading the Church?  To find out more, Susy Hodges spoke to John Allen who works for the Boston Globe and is one of the world’s best known commentators on Vatican and Church affairs. 


Listen to the full interview with John Allen, Vatican correspondent for the Boston Globe: 


Allen says a look back over 2015 shows how Pope Francis and his activities continue to generate enormous interest in the world’s media and that he is just as “relevant” and as “visible” as he was during his first year as Pope.  “The first thing that just smacks you in the face is how ubiquitous Francis has been as a news-maker over the past 12 months.”

Turning to one of year’s most significant events, Allen noted the ongoing “and very sweeping structural reform” of the Vatican Curia and the Vatican’s financial operations which he describes as unprecedented in its scope. 


Synod on Family exposed very real fault lines

Another key event in the Vatican in 2014 was the Synod on the Family held in October.  In Allen’s view, the frank discussions among the bishops exposed “very real fault-lines on several contentious issues” but he pointed out that Pope Francis had stressed right from the outset that he wanted a “robust and open conversation” during the Synod.    

Pope Francis travelled to a number of countries during 2015 but Allen says it was noticeable how during these trips, Pope Francis’s  real “joy” comes when he meets with ordinary people rather than his more formal meetings with government leaders or diplomats.


World’s media hangs on his every word   

Mentioning again Pope Francis’s status as a global media star, Allen talks of the “electricity” that Pope Francis “generates every place he goes and the fact that the world’s news media hangs on his every word.” He believes there is no other public figure “whose trips are more guaranteed to end up on the front page or as the lead item of the nightly news.”

When asked about the Pope’s main priorities and the direction in which he wants to lead the Church, Allen described Pope Francis as a political “centrist, a moderate” and also as “a Pope of the existential and geographical peripheries, ”a Pope with “mercy as his watchword” who has the desire “to take the Church to the heart of the Gospel.”

Looking ahead to the coming year, Allen says whilst predictions are extremely difficult and even “dangerous” when it comes to Pope Francis, he nonetheless believes 2015 is likely to be  “an extremely fascinating and dramatic year” for the Pope and the Vatican.  

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