A look at Pope Francis' first six weeks as pontiff

Pope Francis takes center stage this week in a 16-page special section (Pages 9-24) devoted to the actions of our new pontiff during the first six weeks of his Petrine ministry — and how his pontificate likely will shape the future of the Church. Consider it something akin to a “First 100 days” (or “First 42 days”) look at Francis’ emphases thus far, and how those foci are likely to influence his time as successor of Peter.  

We take a look at ecumenical outreach, Catholic social teaching and his potential connection with the young Church. We juxtapose Pope Francis with his two immediate predecessors, assess his involvement with the New Evangelization and examine a piece of artwork featuring St. Francis that might elucidate what influence the pope’s namesake may have on the pontiff’s ministry.  

Guest columnists Father Robert Barron, Elizabeth Scalia and Bill McGarvey provide unique voices from a variety of sectors within the Church.  

Also in this issue is Thomas Craughwell’s examination of Mary, Undoer of Knots, recently brought into the limelight as one of Pope Francis’ favorite devotions. And, because May is a Marian month and Pope Francis is from Argentina, it’s important to mention Our Lady of Luján, whose feast day is May 8.  

Often spoken of in the last six weeks is Pope Francis’ accessible tone, so as we focus on the new pontiff and his vision for the Church, I leave you with some of his own words: 

◗ “How beautiful is this gaze of Jesus — how much tenderness is there! Brothers and sisters, let us never lose trust in the patience and mercy of God!” — Mass at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, April 7. 

◗ “To enter into the glory of God demands daily fidelity to his will, even when it requires sacrifice.” — via Twitter (@Pontifex) April 17. 

◗ “Faith is a gift, it is the Father who gifts it. We must continue on this path. But if we travel this path, it is always with our own baggage — because we are all sinners and we all always have things that are wrong. But the Lord will forgive us if we ask for forgiveness, and so we should always press onwards, without being discouraged.” — Morning Mass, April 18. 

◗ “The Word of Jesus goes to the heart because it is the Word of love.” — Morning Mass, April 19.  

◗ “Listen for the voice of Jesus and bravely ask him what he wants of you.” — To young people at St. Peter’s Basilica April 21, the 50th World Day of Prayer for Vocations.  

◗ “Sometimes we are tempted to be too much our own bosses and not humble children and servants of the Lord. And this is the temptation to look for other gates or other windows to enter the Kingdom of God. We can only enter by the gate whose name is Jesus.” — Morning Mass, April 22. 

◗ “If we are not ‘sheep of Jesus,’ faith does not come to us. It is a rosewater faith, a faith without substance.” — Morning Mass, April 23.

Newsletter Subscriptions
If you liked this article, you can sign up to receive free weekly newsletters.