Pope Francis and his two lungs

John L. Allen Jr.  |  Nov. 27, 2013 All Things Catholic

There’s no mistaking the fact that Pope Francis’ new apostolic exhortation, “Joy of the Gospel,” released Tuesday by the Vatican, amounts to a call for fairly sweeping change on multiple fronts.

At the big-picture level, Francis says he wants a more missionary and more merciful church, one less afraid of change than of “remaining shut up with structures which give us a false sense of security,” “rules which make us harsh judges,” and “habits which make us feel safe.”

At the level of detail, Francis hints at reform in numerous arenas, including a blunt call for a “conversion of the papacy” toward a “sound decentralization.” That includes at least one seemingly clear reversal of previous policy: assigning teaching authority to bishops’ conferences, as opposed to a 1998 ruling under John Paul II denying them precisely that role.

Yet there’s a deeper sense in which “The Joy of the Gospel” stands in clear continuity with Francis’ immediate predecessor, Benedict XVI, and in particular his 2009 social encyclical Caritas in Veritate. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE…

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