After stumble in South America, what does Pope Francis’ papacy mean for Catholics and the world?

Dallas News

January 25, 2018

By Sara Coello, Contributing Writer

After nearly five years of praise from both Catholic and secular voices for championing causes from environmental responsibility to hospitality for refugees, Pope Francis has taken what some critics see as the first major misstep of his papacy.

After a recent visit to Chile, the pope criticized accusers of Chilean Bishop Juan Barros of committing “calumny” for claiming that Barros covered up years of sexual abuse committed by a superior. The pope’s comment came as a surprise to many who saw him as an advocate for increased attention to social justice, particularly in the global South.

Pope Francis apologized for his language, but maintained his position amid roars of criticism.

Two leading Catholic journalists took to the stage at Dallas’s Moody Performance Hall Wednesday evening and called the pope’s recent comments a departure from his pattern of emphasizing merciful interpretation of the Catholic canon.

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat and Crux contributing editor Austen Ivereigh have followed Francis throughout his papacy, reporting on his political impact and on more general shifts in Catholic culture.

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