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Letter from Rome: The final phase of a disruptive pontificate

Pope Francis moves into high gear in a race against time and internal opposition

Letter from Rome: The final phase of a disruptive pontificate

Age and illness have not taken the wind out of Pope Francis' sails. Despite major intestinal surgery in July and his upcoming 85th birthday in December, the Italo-Argentine pope — amazingly! — is showing absolutely no signs that he's slowing down or planning to close up shop anytime soon.

His recent four-day visit to Budapest, the capital of Hungary, and then to three cities in neighboring Slovakia, did nothing to slacken his pace.

Francis seemed to gain energy as the journey unfolded. And he resumed his busy schedule of meetings with individuals and groups the very next day after returning to the Vatican.

But the pope is well aware that he has moved into the final and most critical phase of his pontificate, which he has positioned to — among other things — radically transform the governing structures and decision-making mechanisms of the Roman Catholic Church.

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