The Catholic Church is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Pope Francis’s pontificate.
The pontiff – who began his papacy on March 13 2013 – did not make much spectacle of the papal milestone, though his reflections on the anniversary have been captured in bits and pieces via Vatican media.
“Time flies… it’s in a hurry. When you want to grasp today, it is already yesterday,” Pope Francis said in a special recorded message – dubbed by Vatican News as a “popecast.”
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“To live like this is something new. These 10 years have been like this: living in tension,” he continued.
Social media for the pope posted a short message as well, writing, “Thank you for having accompanied me with your prayers. Please continue to do so,”
Pope Francis focused much of his reflections on the continued Russian invasion of Ukraine, saying the gift he’d like most for his anniversary is “peace.”
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“Fraternity, weeping, smiling. Human fraternity: we are all brothers, reassembling,” the pontiff said about the future. “And then learn not to be afraid to weep and smile. When you know how to weep and smile, you have your feet on the ground and gaze on the horizon of the future. But if you can’t weep, it means something is wrong. And if you forgot your smile, that’s even worse.”
This papacy has been most characterized by an ongoing friction between conservative and progressive wings of the Catholic Church – with both extreme ends of the spectrum taking issue with the pope’s attitude and governance.
Pope Francis spoke out against gender theory in a recent interview, echoing his past comments expressing disapproval of transgender ideology.
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“Gender ideology, today, is one of the most dangerous ideological colonizations,” Francis said in the conversation.
While often accused of being a progressive religious leader, Pope Francis has remained consistently orthodox on doctrines regarding sexuality and celibacy.
However, recent comments explaining the adaptable nature of priestly celibacy drew accusations from conservatives that the pope was open to allowing Catholic priests to marry.
In a recent interview with an Argentine publication Infobae, Francis said the ban on priestly marriage was only “temporary” and that there is “no contradiction for a priest to marry.”
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“There is no contradiction for a priest to marry. Celibacy in the western Church is a temporary prescription,” Francis said. “It is not eternal like priestly ordination, which is forever whether you like it or not. On the other hand, celibacy is a discipline.”
Clerical celibacy is a canonical law of the Catholic Church, but has never been considered a theological necessity. Catholic clergy outside the Latin Rite – such as the Coptic Catholic Church, Melkite Catholic Church, and the Armenian Catholic Church – are free to marry and have children.
Pope Francis has previous praised clerical celibacy as a “gift to the Church” and expressed that he is averse to changing the norms.
“Personally, I think that celibacy is a gift to the Church,” he said in January 2019. “I would say that I do not agree with allowing optional celibacy, no.”