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Local Catholics fear for radical Pope's safety - Changes will give Francis enemies, says Espeut

Published:Thursday | November 28, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Pope Francis

 Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

While embracing his efforts, local members of the Roman Catholic Church are reportedly terrified for the safety of the determined Pope Francis as he seeks to fundamentally revamp the Church from the Vatican outwards.

"Any Pope that challenges the status quo will make enemies. Pope John Paul II, for example, criticised communism, made enemies on that side, and was shot," said the Reverend Peter Espeut, a Jamaican deacon in the multi-tiered structure of the Roman Catholic Church.

"This Pope is making enemies on the other side because he is challenging capitalism. In the document that was released yesterday, he condemned the idolatry of money," added Espeut. "And so he will make enemies on that side."

In the document to which Espeut referred, a 224-page mission statement titled 'Evangelii Gaudium', Pope Francis called for, among other things, the world's wealthiest people to "help, respect and promote the poor".

FIRST MAJOR WRITING

The document is the Pope's first major written work since being elected pontiff in March this year.

Espeut said Pope Francis' courageous move at the risk of his life is intended to resurrect a "dying" church.

Under the Pope's watch, it is now likely that high-ranking cardinals can be chosen from Jamaica, other Caribbean countries, as well as Africa and Latin America, as emphasis shifts from Italy.

Espeut noted that one of the first radical moves by Francis was the establishment of a committee of cardinals from the rest of the world to reform the Curia - the central administration of the Catholic Church.

Stated Francis earlier this week in a major address: "I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security."

Espeut stressed that the Roman Catholic faith in Jamaica wholly embraces the radical changes being pursued by Francis and is encouraging other denominations to follow suit in order to resurrect the Church.

"We are very pleased for the Pope, but many of us are fearful for his life, and so we pray constantly for his safety because of the many radical changes that he is advocating," he said.

'POPE IN A HURRY'

Espeut characterised the 76-year-old Pope as a "Pope in a hurry".

"He is trying to do as much as he can in the small space of time that he will have because of his advanced age, although we would have liked to see a long and fruitful pontificate," he said.

Radical and revolutionary changes are not usually the forte of the conservative-flavoured Roman Catholic Church, but Pope Francis appears to be changing things up a bit and paving the way for other denominations to follow.

Espeut described the contents of his first papal document as a breath of fresh air. In it, Pope Francis called for major changes in the Roman Catholic Church from the top down, saying he knows it will be messy business, but expects his flock to dive in feet first.