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Boston College Expert: Second Anniversary of Pope Francis

James Bretzke


Fr. Bretzke is a Jesuit priest and professor of moral theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.  He is the author of 70 articles/reviews and seven books including A Morally Complex World: Engaging Contemporary Moral Theology and Consecrated Phrases: A Latin Theological Dictionary. He earned a doctorate at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he also taught for three years.  He has also taught for several years in Seoul, Korea at Sogang University and as a Visiting Professor of Moral Theology at the Loyola School of Theology of the Ateneo de Manila, Philippines.  On the weekends, Father Bretzke ministers at St. Michael's Parish in Bedford, Mass.

Cell: 617-775-9665
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“I think his first two years of Pope Francis have been remarkably successful. He has done a lot to lift up, in a very positive way, the principal mission of the church which is to spread the gospel of peace and reconciliation of forgiveness. That’s what the chief leader should be doing, and he’s doing a magnificent job at it.”

On Biggest Challenge Facing Pope:

“The biggest challenge he has is the one that all recent popes have had and that is how to deal with a larger world that does not really share these core values. How do you make the gospel convincing and compelling to the larger world. He’s also trying to obviously change the culture of the church, moving away from clericalism, dealing with the culture of the Vatican bureaucracy which really was an old boys network. So he’s trying to change those cultures and that has been challenging because there’s nothing so difficult to change as a culture. He’s gotten a lot of pushback from every level there and that is a challenge he’s going to have to continue to confront.”


On Biggest Surprise:

“The biggest surprise to me has been how open and humble he has been. In his earlier days as a Jesuit Provincial, he did not have that reputation. So when Francis was named, many Jesuits felt we were going to get someone even more conservative than Pope Benedict had been. So that’s been the biggest personal surprise. On a larger scale, the big surprise has been his real sense of outreach and humility from not living in the apostolic palace to his real connecting with the people on every level and that has been a very pleasant surprise.”


Media Note: Contact information for additional Boston College faculty sources on a range of subjects is available at: /offices/pubaf/journalist/experts.html


Sean Hennessey
Associate Director
Office of News and Public Affairs
Boston College

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