12 major religious newsmakers — and stories — from the past decade

The Washington Post

January 3, 2020

By Yonat Shimron

The decade that ended Tuesday saw the rise and fall of many newsmakers who stood out, in part or in full, because of their beliefs or religious traditions. This list is far from comprehensive and mostly U.S.-based. Still, it offers a one-time retrospective on the personalities (and issues) that dominated the religious scene:

They rose

Pope Francis: The first Jesuit to become pope, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio from Buenos Aires was elected in 2013.

He has welcomed open debate in the church, often incurring the wrath of the Roman Curia, unrelenting in its desire to hold the line on traditional doctrine. He has become a premier spokesman on climate change, inveighed against the mistreatment of migrants, declared the death penalty “inadmissible” in all cases and the use and possession of atomic weapons as “immoral.”

Francis has not always dealt well with the sexual abuse crisis. In 2018, he defended a Chilean bishop accused of covering for a notorious priest. His critics say much more needs to be done. And there are signs of discontent with Francis among Catholics on the political right.

But the vast majority of U.S. Catholics, while critical of his handling of the sex abuse crisis, have a favorable opinion of the pontiff.

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