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Rome Reports

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The Francis pontificate 9 years in: reforms implemented and tasks still on the table

Pope Francis marks nine years since the start of his pontificate, and his health problems are becoming increasingly evident.

"I have an inflamed ligament in my knee."

It's a problem he has had since the end of January. A month later, the Vatican announced that the Pope would not be taking a planned trip to Florence, and that he would also not preside at Ash Wednesday Mass on March 2. He was instead substituted by Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

Yet he is taking the setback in stride.

"They say this only happens to old people, so I don't know why it's happening to me but...I don't know."

Still, Pope Francis is keeping a quick trip to Malta in early April on his agenda. The Vatican has also announced that he will finally be making one of his most highly-anticipated apostolic visits to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo: two war-torn countries that the Pope has fervently prayed for in the past.

"May the risen Lord break down the walls of hostility that today divide brothers and sisters, especially in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo."

In his reforms of the Vatican, the new apostolic constitution that regulates the Curia is still yet to be published, but the Pope has taken important steps forward in its development in the last nine years. 

In terms of finance, he has increased the Vatican's transparency by trying to put its accounts in order. Many organizations that depend on the Holy See were not previously subject to its financial controls. 

He also shut down several accounts related to the Vatican Bank, and sought to overhaul the Vatican City State's civil justice system, so that even cardinals such as Angelo Becciu formerly the Holy See's third highest-ranking official, could be tried in court. 

"I hope that sooner or later he will realize that there's been a huge mistake."

Although Pope Francis' reforms have also extended to areas such as bringing the Catholic Church to reflect on synodality and the role of laypeople in the Church. 

Giving increased attention to those in need and fighting aginst throwaway culture from a pastorally, rather than politically. 

And pushing a shift in the mindset of the Catholic hierarchy around the world in handling instances of abuse. 

In 2019 he called the presidents of the bishops' conferences to Rome to address the topic. But for some survivor associations, his proposals were not enough.

-“There's no name, there's no date, there's no concrete measure. They are just words and more words.”

The Pope's advisors say that his reforms are far-reaching, and require time to be fully implemented and depend on the people who will carry them out. An idea Cardinal Óscar Maradiaga alluded to in January. 

Coordinator of the Council of Cardinals
"Some are saying that this is the last stage of the pontificate. I am saying no: this is a new stage of the pontificate."

A new stage to institute the reforms put forth by Pope Francis, which in many cases such as with increasing financial transparency, were suggested by the cardinals who attended the conclave which elected him in 2013.