While Pope Francis has received great press for his symbolic gestures of openness and warmth and humility, the real test of how different he would be from his predecessors was when he was confronted with decisions that had significant consequences.
One of the first was how he would deal with the ‘problem’ of the ornery US Catholic nuns who were more focused on helping the poor and sick and homeless, and not pulling their weight when it came to enforcing Catholic dogma against gays and contraception and abortion. Francis’s predecessor Ratzi set in motion a process (run by a male archbishop of course) to overhaul the Leadership Conference of the Women Religious, the organization tat represents the majority of US nuns. The nuns were none too pleased with how that process was being conducted.
In one of his first substantive decisions. Francis has ordered that the overhaul proceed as before, with the same overseer.
Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, who heads the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, met on Monday (April 15) with the LCWR’s leadership for the first time since Francis’ election on March 13.
According to a Vatican statement, during a recent discussion of the case with Mueller, Francis “reaffirmed the findings” of the Vatican investigation and the “program of reform” for LCWR that was announced on April 18, 2012.
This may signal the end of the honeymoon with the new pope, at least in the US. On the other hand, those who fell in love with Francis as a person may be willing to make excuses for Francis, the way that many Obama fans seem willing to overlook his appalling violations of human rights because they like him as a person.