Grading Pope Francis' first four months

On Saturday, I was in New York for an interview on the CBS Saturday Morning show.  I had been a guest on that show several times during the papal transition in the spring.  

This time, Pope Francis created such a stir with his trip to Brazil and his press conference on the plane heading home that the media clamored for more.

"How new is this guy?" they seemed to be asking. "Is he for real?" And underneath it all was the big question: "Is he really a reformer? A revolutionary?"

Before the show, the producers told me I would be asked to "grade" Pope Francis on his first four months in office.  I thought long and hard about my answer.   

When the question finally came at the end of the interview, I said simply, "On style and tone and emphasis [on social justice], an A+. But on substance and all else, an 'incomplete.' "   

Help fund independent Catholic journalism.
Donate now.

If he is indeed a reformer or a revolutionary, we have yet to see it.  Coming still are his appointments to the Curia (or reform of the curial structure) and the appointments of bishops in the United States and elsewhere.  He has yet to seriously tackle the fallout from the sex abuse crisis, especially with the bishops who did nothing to stop it.  

And of course, Pope Francis' understanding of issues facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and the role of women in the church has a long way to go. (I suggested on CBS that his contention that "the church has an inadequate theology of women" is certainly a true statement for the male hierarchy, and I might assign him some "homework": Begin reading the enormous body of feminist theology that has been enriching the church for decades.  

Watch a clip of the interview.

Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg

Show comments

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.