Women; the old guard; pope v. pope; graffiti; and All Things Catholic

National Catholic Reporter

John L. Allen Jr. | Jan. 31, 2014 …

By now, many people have commented on the Rolling Stone cover story on Pope Francis, particularly the “Benedict bad, Francis good” framework the piece adopted. (Words such as “dour” and “disastrous” about Benedict loomed large.) A Vatican spokesman called the contrast between the two pontiffs “superficial journalism” marked by “a surprising crudeness.”

To be fair, comparisons between Francis and his predecessor are inevitable, and there’s no getting around the point that Francis is more of a crowd-pleaser. For sure, too, there is a shift in tone under Francis in what could be described as a “moderate” direction, though it might better be expressed as the ascendancy of the church’s pastors and diplomats over its theologians and canon lawyers.

That said, it’s also clear that Francis tends to get credit for several perceived reforms that actually began on Benedict’s watch, especially in two chronic sources of scandal for the church: money and sex abuse.

On money, it was Benedict who created a new financial watchdog agency, who opened the Vatican for the first time to outside secular inspection through the Moneyval process (the Council of Europe’s anti-money-laundering agency), and who appointed a new president of the Vatican bank who just released its first independently certified financial statement.

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