On the second anniversary of his election, Pope Francis mused: “I have the sensation that my pontificate will be short. Four or five years …” In a few weeks’ time, on 13 March 2018, five years will be up – yet he has no intention of resigning.
Francis is determined to step down the day that he feels his strength significantly diminishing; meanwhile, his supporters in the Roman Curia and in the local Churches worldwide are encouraging him to stay for as long as he can. His vision of the Church as community, not as monarchy; his reshaping of the bishops’ conferences and of the College of Cardinals; his various reforms to the way the Church is governed – these impulses and initiatives need time to trickle down and bed themselves in.
But, more than changes of structures or of canon law or even of personnel, Francis is seeking to foster a new mentality and attitude among the faithful.