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Reflecting on the 'Francis effect'


Regarded by some as lacking leadership potential in his early years in the Church, Jorge Mario Bergoglio went on to become the much-loved Pope Francis who is now a constant source of inspiration and hope for Catholics and many others, the Cross Road Forum heard this month.

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The Sebastian Room at The Monastery was filled to capacity on June 15 as people of various faiths came to hear guest speaker Father Bob Wilkinson’s thoughts on the ‘Francis effect’ not only on the Catholic Church but the world.

As Fr Wilkinson outlined, Francis’ early years were not rated highly by the Jesuits. However, after spending time in Germany he returned to South America, becoming the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. His conversion to the poor during this time was a “daring thing” and showed a man who was compassionate, loving and welcoming, he said.

This concern for the wellbeing of the poor continues today and was highlighted when he chose the name Francis – in honour of St Francis of Assisi – when he was elected Pope in 2013.

Fr Wilkinson said the Pope’s address to the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops was significant, as he spoke of the necessity of everyone “journeying together”.

“After 62 years as a priest, this is a very inspiring concept because it is not only the Pope speaking to the Bishops, it’s us speaking to each other,” Fr Wilkinson said.

He went on to speak about some of the Pope’s key areas of focus over the past four years, including encouraging a decentralised Church and addressing the chaos in the administration (such as corruption, child abuse and finance).

Following Fr Wilkinson’s address, members of the audience shared their thoughts on the ‘Francis effect’.


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