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Pope celebrates 10th anniversary with podcast and diplomatic row

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis on Monday celebrated 10 years as head of the Catholic Church with a podcast, a private mass and a series of interviews, one of which sparked a diplomatic row with Nicaragua.

“It feels like yesterday,” the 86-year-old recalled his choice during a podcast for official broadcaster Vatican News – after having to be told what a podcast is.

When asked what he would like as a gift for his 10th anniversary, for which he has no public plans other than a Mass with cardinals, Pope Francis added: “Peace. We need peace.”

Jorge Bergoglio was elected Pope on March 13, 2013, after his predecessor Benedict XVI. had stunned the world by becoming the first pope to resign since the Middle Ages.

He said he never expected to be elected but only packed a small suitcase to travel from Argentina to Rome for the conclave, believing he would soon be back in Buenos Aires where he was archbishop.

But he had a vision, and over the next decade he would overhaul church governance, including purging the Vatican books and addressing child abuse by clergy.

He also changed many people’s perceptions of the papacy by being less concerned with theology and more concerned with social issues, from migration to the environment.

And even while upholding traditional teaching on issues like abortion and gay marriage, he has sought to shape the image of a more open, compassionate church.

– Nicaragua series –

“He is a pope for this time,” said Italian priest Father Roberto, who traveled to St. Peter’s Square to hear the pope deliver his weekly Angelus prayer on Sunday.

“He managed to take the needs of today and propose them to the entire world church… And now he is pushing the church forward for the years to come. He sows good things for the future.”

However, not everyone is enthusiastic about Francis’ approach, especially the conservative wing of the Catholic Church. One critic, German Cardinal Gerhard Müller, recently criticized the Pope’s “doctrinal confusion”.

Never one to shy away from controversy, Francis regularly used his pulpit to rail against everything from the Mafia to consumerism and the arms industry.

In one of his anniversary interviews with the Argentine news channel Infobae, he described the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega as a “crude dictatorship”.

Ortega’s government, which has long had tensions with the Catholic Church, responded Sunday by saying it was considering ending diplomatic ties with the Vatican.

In another interview with the Swiss broadcaster RTS last week, the Pope denounced the participation of all “great powers” in the Ukraine war.

He regularly prays for the victims of the war, although he has been criticized for not directly blaming Russia as the aggressor.

– ‘It is not easy’ –

Pope Francis has sought to mend relations with Islam during his tenure, and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Cairo’s prestigious Al-Azhar Mosque, was among those to congratulate him on his 10th anniversary.

In a letter published by Vatican News, al-Tayeb hailed the pope’s efforts to “build bridges of love and brotherhood among all people.”

Messages of congratulations were also received from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, and Anglican leader Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Welby recently accompanied Francis on a peacekeeping mission to conflict-torn South Sudan, where huge crowds flocked to see the Pope, as they do everywhere he goes.

Despite his age and health problems, the Pope continues to travel extensively.

Francis was hospitalized for colon surgery in 2021 and now uses a wheelchair because of knee problems – something he admitted in an interview he was “a little ashamed of”.

The Pope has said he would follow Benedict in stepping down if he ever becomes too frail for the job, but insists it is not on his agenda.

When asked by the Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano what his hopes were for the future, he replied: “The Lord have mercy on me. Being pope is not an easy task.”

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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