International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church vol:13 issue:2 pages:147-160
Catholic Canon Law stipulates that the Pope is ‘the pastor of the universal Church on earth’. Pope Francis took up the challenge which this statement poses to those exercising the Petrine ministry by asking for prayers that he might be ‘a pastor according to the heart of Christ’. How is a Pope ‘a pastor according to the heart of Christ’? What particular opportunities does the Petrine ministry offer for this? What are the pastoral aspects of the papacy? What does it seem we can expect from Pope Francis in this regard? As this article shows, the task of ‘a pastor according to the heart of Christ’ has an impact on several aspects of the implementation of the Petrine ministry,
such as using the Pope’s power in the service of unity, encouraging collegiality in communion as the visible centre of the entire Christian Church in dialogue with other religions, that the world may believe.