His Holiness Pope Francis I is scheduled to be installed as the 266th pontiff on Tuesday, March 19. At this time, the Church has quite a bit on its agenda. Issues needing attention include evangelization, reform of governance within the Church, interfaith issues, the role of women in the Church, the growing use of surrogates, clergy misconduct issues and improving the reporting mechanisms between the Synod of Bishops and the papacy.
Perhaps the most important task at the outset is to improve the reporting relationship between the Synod of Bishops and the pope. This was an effort begun by His Holiness Pope Paul VI.
The Synod consists of a group of bishops who have been chosen from different global areas. Their mission is to create a closer unity between the Pontiff and the bishops in order to strengthen ecclesiastical discipline and to consider questions pertaining to the global activities of the Church.
The Synod has many responsibilities. Reporting on specific geopolitical issues to the pope is the area which has caused the most questions surrounding the Church's actions or lack thereof in the "Dirty War" in Argentina. This war was the subject of growing questions about then Father Bergoglio's advising several Argentine priests to give up their pastoral work for a period or lose the protection of the Jesuit Order in Argentina.
The Church was not the only party to have been faced with difficult choices in the Dirty War. On October 6, 1976, Argentine Admiral Cesar Augusto Guzzetti had been told by Acting Secretary of State Charles W. Robinson "The problem is that the United States is an idealistic and moral country and its citizens have great difficulty in comprehending the kinds of problems faced by Argentina today. There is a tendency to apply our moral standards abroad and Argentina must understand the reaction of Congress with regard to loans and military assistance. The American people, right or wrong, have the perception that today there exists in Argentina a pattern of gross violations of human rights."
Examples of human rights violations include the activities of Jorge Acosta, Chief of the Argentinian Intelligence Task Force, who was responsible for ordering the killing of a Swedish teenage girl, Dagmar Hagelin, the French nuns of the Church of Santa Cruz, Leonie Duquet and Alice Domon, and the founder of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo human rights group, Azucena Villaflor de Vicenti. In October 2011, Acosta was sentenced to life in prison by an Argentine court.