Pope Francis turns 85 and becomes one of the ten longest-lived pontiffs in history

Pope Francis, in a file photograph. EFE / EPA / ALESSANDRO DI MEO (ALESSANDRO DI MEO /)

Pope Francis turns 85 this Friday and is among the ten oldest pontiffs in the history of the Church, between Innocent XII, who died on September 27, 1700 two months after reaching that age, and John Paul II, who died on April 2, 2005 without having met them.

Francisco is not expected to celebrate this date with private celebrations, since he will fulfill his official agenda, which is managed by the Secretary of State, like the rest of the days.

In 2022, the pontiff will enter the ninth year of his Pontificate with an eye toward closing the long-awaited Apostolic Constitution, although in practice the main reforms have already been implemented. In fact, the trial against the dismissed Italian cardinal Angelo Becciu and five others for the irregular purchase of a luxurious building in London in 2014 -to be resumed in mid-February- reflects some of the essential changes in the organization of the Vatican both on the legal and economic levels.

Pope Francis in a file image.  EFE / EPA / VATICAN MEDIA
Pope Francis in a file image. EFE / EPA / VATICAN MEDIA (VATICAN MEDIA HANDOUT /)

At the end of April, the Pope introduced one of the most important changes in the Roman Curia by repealing the law that prevented the cardinals of this institution from being tried by an ordinary court and decree that they could be prosecuted by the Vatican’s ordinary court of first instance, which is also made up of lay judges.

Until then, bishops and cardinals had the privilege of only being tried by a court of which judges and other cardinals appointed by the bishop of Rome were members. The novelty established by the Pope is that the cardinals now have the same treatment as any lay person before the courts. The process against Becciu has also been an accelerator with respect to economic reform and, specifically, in the introduction of a system of greater surveillance and control, especially in terms of expenses.

According to the investigations of the magistrates of the court of the Holy See, the purchase of the London building was conceived through an investment fund, managed at that time by the Italian banker, Raffaele Mincione, for more than 300 million euros, when Becciu was the substitute for the Secretary of State, a position that operates in practice as that of the pope’s chief of staff. Part of that money came from donations that came from the ‘Óbolo de San Pedro’, which donors hope will be immediately and directly dedicated to the pope’s charities.

Pope Francis, in a file image.  EFE / EPA / FABIO FRUSTACI
Pope Francis, in a file image. EFE / EPA / FABIO FRUSTACI (FABIO FRUSTACI /)

Thus, Francisco decided to withdraw the own funds of the Secretary of State, which was left without a portfolio. In addition, the Secretariat for the Economy is now the main body that has the function of supervising each budget item of the Vatican, which limits the responsibilities and opportunities to commit acts of corruption.

Another reform has to do with the position that the Roman Curia occupies in the organization chart of the universal Church. The Pope wants him to be at the service of the needs of the dioceses, and above all to have the ability to listen and help the local Churches in their needs. Hence also the consultation process that has opened in the Church and that will culminate in 2023 with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome with the theme ‘For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission’.

In addition, the pontiff has already advanced other reforms such as increase the number of laity and women in leadership positions in the Church, which has been growing progressively, or the limitation of the commands of the Curia to five years.

(With information from Europa Press)


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