- Jun 18, 2021
The more a given pope sees himself as a reformer, the more inclined he often is to act like an old-school absolute monarch to advance that agenda.
When Pope Francis goes to Japan, there won’t be any talk of a showdown between the Vatican and a rebellious local church — and that alone is striking.
We’ve had several clear instances just in recent months in which Francis has all but taken over the judgment of a local church, at least on specific matters, issuing orders and drawing lines in the sand.
Although at a symbolic level, Pope Francis’s decision on Saturday to shift considerably more control to local bishops’ conferences and away from the Vatican over translation of liturgical texts into vernacular languages may have been an earthquake, most experts don’t seem to believe it will mean much in the short-term for the prayers American Catholics say at Sunday Mass.
Several Catholic bishops in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous state, have joined mounting calls for a wide decentralization of power in the country, shifting authority to the 36 states, but not every bishop buys it. Bishop Hyacinth Oroko Egbebo says until the corruption problem is solved, it doesn’t much matter who’s making corrupt decisions.
In a move the English-speaking Catholic world is likely to find especially significant, Pope Francis on Saturday took steps towards realizing his calls for “healthy decentralization,” at least when it comes to the translation of texts for use in worship. From here on out, the pontiff decreed, the major responsibility for those texts will lie with bishops’ conferences, with Rome only saying “yes” or “no” at the end.