Even if the conservative camp still holds an electoral majority at the next papal conclave, Pope Francis has at least begun to institutionalize his legacy within the Vatican bureaucracy, complete with a popular papabile leading the charge as he seeks to further secure his vision for the Church’s role in the world in 2017.
February 17, 2017 | Unlike many of his fellow world leaders, Pope Francis had a good 2016. His emphasis on humanitarian kindness in a time of increasing political turbulence has been warmly received by many liberal observers, eager to find a source of hope in uncertain times. In particular, Francis’s statements on climate change, the migration crisis and the shortcomings of unfettered capitalism, and border walls, along with his obliquely progressive statements on social issues such as homosexuality and abortion, have won him continued plaudits in the secular media.
In an editorial on New Year’s Day, for example, the Guardian praised Pope Francis as a “champion of humanity,” outlining his paradoxical status as the defender of progressive causes now under attack around the world. Similarly, in a piece for the American Prospect, Alexander Görlach touted Francis as “A Sacred Populist,” lauding him for breaking with conservatives and preaching a simple message of acceptance in times of great political upheaval and conflict. Liberals have had all the more reason to rally behind the pope since the beginning of Trump’s presidency, as White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has allied with Francis’s bitterest opponents in an attempt to export his political revolution to the Vatican.