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Letter from Rome: Our very human and evangelical pope

Pope Francis reaches the eight-year mark of an extraordinary pontificate

Letter from Rome: Our very human and evangelical pope

It is probably hard for many Catholics to remember what a state of disarray the Church was in — especially the Vatican — back on March 13, 2013 when an Italo-Argentine Jesuit named Jorge Mario Bergoglio stepped out on the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica as the newly elected pope.

Most people probably only remember the cheers of euphoria when it was announced that this 76-year-old man who was the new bishop of Rome had taken the name Francis, something none of his 265 predecessors over the course of more than 2,000 years had ever done.

Perhaps those other popes never dared to take this name because of its immediate association with arguably history's most beloved and radical saint, the Poor Man from Assisi.

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Maybe they thought it was unfitting for the Supreme Pontiff to choose a name that conjured up a romanticized and idealistic vision of a Church that is poor, weak and vulnerable, utterly simple and dangerously free; one that constantly seems at risk of being unmoored from the centuries-old behemoth that is the institutional Church of Rome.

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