ROME — Pope Francis last week honored a past pope who remains wildly popular in Rome. Francis blessed a plaque renaming a corner of the piazza outside the Basilica of St. John Lateran after Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005.
Francis applauded, then gave his blessing after Rome’s mayor unveiled the simple white stone plaque marking “Giovanni Paul II Square” in a section of the vast piazza, which often hosts free rock concerts and political and labor rallies.
In other news, Pope Francis recently named a Spanish Franciscan to be No. 2 at the Vatican’s office for religious orders, his first appointment to the Vatican bureaucracy.
Jose Rodriguez, who also was elevated to archbishop, replaces U.S. Archbishop Joseph Tobin, who was transferred from the high-ranking Vatican post to a Midwestern U.S. archdiocese following his efforts to mediate tensions between the Vatican and American nuns, who in the view of theological conservatives had become too secular and political.
Rodriquez, 60, is an outsider to the Vatican administration and comes from the world of religious orders, like Francis who is a Jesuit. Rodriguez is well-thought of among the orders.
American nuns have seen the election of a Jesuit pope devoted to the poor as a glimmer of hope following a Vatican crackdown under Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI.
The nuns were accused of focusing too much on social justice, one of Francis’ priorities, at the expense of other church issues.
Rodriguez’ predecessor, Tobin, is now archbishop of Indianapolis.