Vatican City

Church celebrates Francis's 5th anniversary as pope

Ordinary day of work for Argentine pontiff

Church celebrates Francis's 5th anniversary as pope

Vatican City, March 13 - The Catholic Church on Tuesday marked the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis's election to its helm following the shock resignation of Benedict XVI on February 11, 2013. It was an ordinary day of work for the 81-year-old Argentine pontiff, who has won popular support for his modesty and humble leadership style but also created many enemies among conservatives and reactionaries for his reforms. Significantly, the former pontiff blasted prejudice against his successor in a letter sent ahead of the anniversary on Monday. "I applaud this initiative that wants to oppose and react to the obtuse prejudice for which Pope Francis is only a practical man devoid of any theological or philosophical training, while I was allegedly only a theorist of theology who understood little of the concrete lives of today's Christians," the letter read. "The volumes of The Theology of Pope Francis presented today show with reason that Pope Francis is a man of profound philosophical and theological training and thus help to see the internal continuity between the two pontificates, albeit with all the differences of style and temperament," Benedict XVI wrote. Meanwhile, in an interview with Vatican News, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said the "fundamental characteristic" of Francis' pontificate is joy. "Then there is the other feature of his Pontificate: mercy," he continued. "The third aspect seems to me that of evangelization, that of the outward looking Church that must bring the Gospel to all of creation," Parolin said. "The dynamism that the Pope has stressed and wants to impress on the Church, can be the cause of different, conflicting and sometimes even opposing judgments," the Vatican's chief diplomat continued. "As regards the criticism I would distinguish between those that are destructive, aggressive, really bad criticisms - we use this word - and those that are constructive criticisms," said Parolin. The former should be accepted "in cruce" and the latter "taken into account because it can help, be an aid to improvement, and even improve one's service", he added. "I think that constructive criticism is that which arises from fundamentally an attitude of love and that aim of building communion in the Church," concluded Parolin. Anniversary greetings also came in from outside the Church on Tuesday. In a Tweet Rome's Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni sent his best wishes for "Five years of...friendship and good relations". Former Lower House Speaker Laura Boldrini highlighted the pope's "courage and humility alongside the poorest and forgotten. Against inequality, indifference and a culture of waste. An example for all," she wrote. Also on Tuesday, the trailer of "Pope Francis - A Man of His Word", written and directed by three-time Academy Award© nominee Wim Wenders, was released on Vatican News. The film, which will be released in the US on May 18, is intended to be a personal journey with Pope Francis, rather than a biographical documentary about him. The pontiff's ideas and message are central to the film, which presents his work of reform and his answers to today's global questions regarding death, social justice, immigration, ecology, wealth inequality, materialism, and the role of the family.

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