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To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism
To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism
By Ross Douthat
256 pp, Simon & Shuster, 2018
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From the very first time he appeared on the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square, in Rome, in 2013, Pope Francis has sought to demystify the papacy and cultivate an image of himself as a humble servant of the faithful. Standing before the multitudes gathered below, who had anxiously awaited the billows of white smoke announcing the selection of a new pope, Francis—formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires—chose not to deliver a formal inaugural address, as previous popes had done. “Brothers and sisters, good evening,” he said. He then joked about his prior distance—geographic and otherwise, perhaps—from the Vatican, noting that the cardinals tasked with naming a new pope had to look “almost to the ends of the earth” to find him. He offered a prayer for his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, and then explained, in clear but ecclesiastically impeccable language, the mission of the

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  • MARIA CLARA BINGEMER is Professor of Theology at the Pontifical Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro. This essay was translated from Portuguese by Eric M. B. Becker.
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