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The Boston Globe

Opinion

JAMES CARROLL

An opening in Rome?

In a remarkable homily, Pope Francis hints at change in church’s thinking

ESPECIALLY AMONG Catholics who bristled under the traditionalism of Benedict XVI, Pope Francis was widely welcomed as the new leader of the church. His prompt rejection of the trappings of Renaissance royalty, for example — no red Prada shoes for him — led many to expect a needed restoration of simplicity in a faith rooted in the life of a Galilean peasant. Instead of moving into the isolating papal apartments in the Vatican Palace, Francis took up modest rooms in St. Martha’s House, where visitors are offered hospitality. The pope’s personal style soon took on the character of a proclamation. “Preach the Gospel,” he said, citing his namesake St. Francis, “and if necessary use words.”

He has done that, too. When a factory collapse killed more than 1,000 workers in Bangladesh in April, Pope Francis denounced the working conditions in which so much of the affluent world’s clothing is manufactured as “slave labor.” He reminded “the rich to help the poor, to respect them, to promote them.” He called for “a return to person-centered ethics in the world of finance and economics.”

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