Pope’s early 2020 likely to be dominated by documents rather than deeds


January 7, 2020

By John L. Allen Jr.

Rome – Normally when one looks ahead at a pope’s new year, it’s either things the pope is expected to do over the coming 12 months that loom largest – foreign trips, for instance, and bishops’ appointments – or things he’s likely to say, such as milestone speeches or sensational media interviews.

There will be all of that for Pope Francis in 2020, but at least for the early part of the year, it seems more likely the biggest papal bombshells will instead come in things the pope is expected to publish, especially two keenly awaited texts: Francis’s conclusions to last October’s Synod of Bishops on the Amazon, and the Vatican’s report on the case of former cardinal and former priest Theodore McCarrick.

Also on that list probably should be Praedicate Evangelium, Francis’s long-awaited overhaul of the Roman Curia, though it’s probably not destined to be the thunderclap the other two texts will represent. Many of its main conclusions have already been made public, including the pope’s plan to make evangelization and mission the engine driving the Vatican’s train.

Both the synod conclusions and the McCarrick report could be out within the first third of the year, and both are likely to fuel debate and controversy for some time to come.

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