Department ofReligious Studies


Sally Vance-Trembath, RS Lecturer and Media Commentator

Sally Vance-Trembath (Religious Studies) was asked to comment on Pope Francis' visit to Mexico by the LA Times and by Aljazeera TV. Photo: Aljazeera TV.

One of the ways that the SCU Religious Studies Department serves the wider Church is helping journalists understand both the contemporary context and the "ancient" wisdom, forms, practices and teachings of the Catholic Church. Ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Mexico, Sally Vance-Trembath spent a lot of time talking with journalists. 

Mitchell Landsberg at the Los Angeles wrote a long article for which Prof. Vance-Trembath provided background as well as this quotation: “Pope Francis is a new kind of pope,” she said. “Or, let me put it another way: He’s a return to an earlier way of being pope from the ancient church. He’s not a monarch, he’s not the CEO, he’s not the head of the church in the way that Benedict and John Paul II were. He’s the bishop of Rome, first and foremost.”

During the same week, Prof. VT was called by Aljazeera from Qatar to talk about Pope Francis visit with Russia Patriarch Krill.  The suggestion was made that the  reason the Patriarch agreed to meet with Pope Francis given the long-standing alienation between the Roman and the Russian churches, was primarily political.  Placed in the context of rather aggressive policies of Vladimir Putin, it could appear that the Patriarch was using his position to support those polices. In  Prof. VT's response to that suggestion on television from San Francisco she called the suggestion "cynical." Her assessment of the meeting is that two important spiritual leaders were meeting to draw their own communities closer and to express value and respect for each' community. That follows Pope Francis' pattern and style.

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