On the sixth anniversary of Pope Francis' election Wednesday, the Vatican's chief spokesman said Francis will continue to lead the Church as a synodal "field hospital" in the year ahead.


Pope Francis "has a vision of an 'outgoing' Church and a 'field hospital' Church," Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Holy See Press Office told Vatican Media March 13.


"The outgoing Church presupposes that you walk … and 'synodal' means walking together," he continued.


Gisotti connected Pope Francis' vision of the Church, from the beginning of his pontificate, as a field hospital to the Vatican's recent sex abuse summit on the protection of minors.


"With the meeting on the protection of minors we have seen a Church that has the courage to bind the wounds of women and men of our time," Gisotti said.

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The Vatican spokesman reaffirmed that last month's Vatican summit necessitated concrete follow-up on the global issue of the protection of minors. This next phase will include the publication of a motu proprio, a handbook from the Congregation on the Doctrine of Faith with a series of regulations, and a task force with experts that can consult bishops' conferences on the issue of child protection.


"Many had some doubts that it was appropriate to hold this meeting, while the Pope in this regard showed courage and also, in my opinion, a prophetic courage, because for the first time - in the face of a terrible scandal that puts at risk not only the credibility, but in some respects the very mission of the Church - he convoked all the presidents of the episcopates," Gisotti said.


Vatican Media Editor Andrea Tornielli also said that pope's sixth year will be "marked at the beginning and the end by two 'synodal' events," the Vatican sex abuse summit and the special Synod on the Amazon respectively.


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"But a look at the past year cannot ignore the re-emergence of the abuse scandal and the internal divisions that led the former nuncio Carlo Maria Viganò last August to publicly demand the resignation of the Pope for the management of the McCarrick case, just as Francis celebrated the Eucharist with thousands of families in Dublin proposing the beauty and value of Christian marriage," Tornielli wrote in an Italian editorial on the eve of the pope's anniversary.


"The Church, as Pope Francis reminds us today, is not self-sufficient precisely because she too recognizes herself as a beggar asking for healing, in need of mercy and forgiveness from her Lord and she bears witness to the Gospel to many wounded men and women of our time," he said.


"Perhaps never before as in the troubled year just gone by, the sixth of his pontificate, has the Pope who presents himself as 'a forgiven sinner,' testified to this essential and most relevant fact of the Christian faith," he continued.


The pope spent the sixth anniversary of his election as the 265th successor of St. Peter on a weeklong Lenten retreat with members of the Roman curia, held outside of Vatican City.


At the retreat Wednesday, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re told Pope Francis and 64 members of the Roman curia that "we are asking that the Lord be your light, support and comfort in your task of confirming your brethren in faith, of being the foundation of unity, and of showing everyone the way that leads to heaven."