An Advent Journey with Pope Francis and Evangelii Gaudium, Part 13
The papacy and the central structures of the universal Church also need to hear the call to pastoral conversion. (Evangelii Gaudium, 32)
Pope Francis believes that it his duty as the Bishop of Rome to “be open to suggestions which can help make the exercise of my ministry more faithful to the meaning which Jesus Christ wished to give it and to the present needs of evangelization.”
Vatican II called for a greater collegiality among the pope and bishops as well as a greater sense of subsidiarity for episcopal conferences. Francis is now calling for a renewed effort to make this a reality. He believes that “Excessive centralization, rather than proving helpful, complicates the Church’s life and her missionary outreach.”
These are rumblings of a major paradigm shift about to happen. Whenever there are rumblings, there will be those who fear the uncertainty that comes with change. For some, it will require a major letting go not only of old ways of doing things, but of a leadership structure of elitism and privilege that will be hard to give up. Francis won’t have much trouble convincing many Catholics on the ground of a more horizontal style of leadership. The tougher sell will be among the “princely” leaders of the church.