Looking back and Pope Francis’ first year: A Q&A with John Allen
Saturday, John L. Allen Jr., a prominent Vatican correspondent for the Boston Globe, will discuss Pope Francis’ reign at National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville. The talk, which starts at 9 a.m., will cover the three pillars of Francis’ vision for the church.
In this Q&A, religion reporter Lilly Fowler talks to Allen about his years covering the Roman Catholic Church, the Boston Globe’s new website, Crux, and Pope Francis’ leadership so far.
Some excerpts from her article…
LF: You’re the chief correspondent for this new website dedicated specifically to covering the Roman Catholic Church – Crux. Can you describe the website’s role?
JA: I think the unique opportunity that we have with Crux is that we can be far enough away from the Catholic story to get it right. That is, unlike a lot of Catholic media outlets that are sponsored by different groups, we’re not committed to one side or the other in the church’s internal arguments. We want to be evenhanded.
The problem with a lot of secular coverage of religion is they just don’t have the resources to pay the kind of close attention to really truly understand on a day-to-day basis what’s happening.
LF:What do you see as Pope Francis’ primary strengths and weaknesses so far?
JA: The most striking thing is the way that he’s completely changed the narrative about the Catholic Church. Eighteen months ago, the big Catholic stories were sex abuse scandals, crackdowns on nuns and bruising political controversies. Those stories obviously haven’t gone away, but they are no longer the dominant Catholic narrative.
LF: Will there be actual change?
JA: …To me the drama of this comes down to which side of Francis is going to prevail? Is he going to say, well, I was elected to lead, so I’m going to pull the trigger on this change? Or is he going to say I’ve committed to governing by consensus?
LF: Anything in particular we should look for in 2015?
JA: For Americans, obviously the big highlight of 2015 is going to be his trip to the United States in September. We’re expecting him to visit Philadelphia, New York and Washington. It will be his first trip to the U.S., not just as pope, by the way, his first trip to the U.S. ever. And that’s going to be a massive, massive several days. He draws huge crowds everywhere he goes. He’s like a magnet for humanity.
Lilly Fowler is the religion reporter at the Post-Dispatch. Follow her on Twitter