Nice guy or tough guy? The two faces of Pope Francis

Pope declares 'zero tolerance' for sexual abuse in Catholic church - christian mail

VATICAN CITY (RNS) report – To the vast majority, Pope Francis is the compassionate face of Catholicism today.

He’s rescued refugees, opened the Vatican’s doors to the homeless and told Catholics there’s no sin God won’t forgive.

But there is another streak to the Argentine pontiff that has been on display in recent days: A willingness to flex papal muscle and lay down the law.

Underneath the pope’s compassion is a steely side, which he’s particularly ready to use when it comes to priests, bishops or cardinals he feels are undermining the church’s mission.

It was evident earlier this month when the pope delivered a stinging rebuke to priests from the Diocese of Ahiara in Nigeria. The priests had refused to accept the 2012 appointment of a bishop from a different clan.

When he met with the Ahiara clergy he ordered each one of them to apologize in writing, pledge their “total obedience” to the papacy and accept whomever he appoints to lead the diocese.

To top it off, he told the priests they must send their letter within 30 days or face automatic suspension. As papal disciplining goes, it doesn’t get much tougher.

The pope was furious clan differences were being put before the church’s unity and mission. If there is one thing Francis really dislikes, it’s the church being used for political, sectarian or tribal agendas.

“It’s a mistake to think of Francis as a ‘nice guy,’” one of his aides said. The pope, he explained, is a “radical” with a mission  … read more

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