Francis I: a perfect Pope or papal poverty? Islington’s catholic leaders have their say

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Father Gerard King from Joan of Arc Church in Highbury: “The church is not a company, we’re not trying to market ourselves in order to keep ourselves relevant or viable. There has to be some kind of engaging with society but not to the point where you change to become popular. The gospel isn’t about that, it’s about being compassionate and reaching out to people in their individual circumstances and the Pope is meant to preach the gospel. There might be a different emphasis on working with the poor and marginalised but I wouldn’t expect any change on some issues because you can’t change what the scriptures have revealed.” Image courtesy of Father Gerard King.

The election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio on 13 March signalled a new era for many. The Argentinian is not only the first Jesuit pope but also the first to come from outside of Europe since 741 AD. On Tuesday his inauguration was watched by millions around the world.

But closer to home Islington has seen a sharp decline in the number of people who identify themselves as Christian falling from 95,000 in 2001 to 82,000 in 2011. According to the members of the clergy in the borough although the pope’s humility is welcomed, he is restricted by how much he can change the Catholic Church and, although he should seek to engage with people, the church is not a business looking for more customers.