Since becoming Pope, Pope Francis has humbled the Vatican offices and made a standout example of what a good Christian-and good Catholic- should be. HIs big moment perhaps was, while being on board a flight back from Brazil, he said, “Who am i to judge?” when asked how he felt about the possibility of gay priests. He has revolutionized the church, and helped guide it into the 21st Century.
When the Papal conclave started in March 2013, Pope Francis, then known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio the Bishop of Argentina, was preparing to retire. He was rumored to be the runner-up to Pope Benedict in 2005, but was not given much more than a glance in the beginning of the conclave. The focus was on other Cardinals who were younger, and more visible in worldwide church politics. Bergoglio was seen as sitting in the back, and one who, frankly, had his time passed over.
Pope Francis was elected on the second day of the conclave and chose his name after the thirteenth century saint who gave up a life of rich and royal possessions to live with the poor. In his first blessing to the crowd gathered at Saint Peter’s on that cold, rainy night, he did something unexpected and unprecedented. He addressed the crowd in a familiar, instead of formal, tone. Previous Popes always addressed in a formal one as a signal of dignity, but Francis did otherwise, and asked the crowd to pray for him, It was the start of an emerging pattern.
A few weeks later, he washed the feet of prisoners inside a juvenile prison in Rome, following a Catholic church tradition of Jesus washing the disciples feet, Pope Francis, again, broke tradition be washing the feet of a Muslim man inside the prison. On a flight back home from Rio de Janeiro after World Youth Day, he used the now common phrase, “Who am I to Judge?” when talking about gay priests. Pope Francis focuses more on the poor, and on God’s mercy, more than other key church teachings, which, again is unlike other previous popes. Even Barack Obama has stated how impactful the Pope has been. He helped break a barrier between Cuba and the United States.
The Rev. Thomas Rosica of Canada, a Vatican spokesman, said about the Pope shortly after his election, “He cooks for himself and took great pride in telling us that, and that he took the bus to work” rather than riding in a car, Father Rosica said.
Upon his election,cardinals said they were looking for “a pope that understands the problems of the church at present” and who is strong enough to tackle them. Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, the archbishop emeritus of Prague, said those problems included reforming the Roman Curia, handling the sex abuse crisis and cleaning up the Vatican bank.
“He needs to be capable of solving these issues,” Cardinal Vlk said as he walked near the Vatican this week.
And he has approached and take about these issues. Pope Francis has established a new precedent with his surprising, and newsworthy actions
- March 13, 2013: Pope Francis is elected Bishop of Rome
- March 16: Pope Francis declares “I would like a poor church…”
- March 26: Pope decides not to move into the spacious and regal papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace.
- March 28: Pope shocks traditionalists when, during a visit to a juvenile prison, he includes women and Muslims in a traditional Holy Thursday foot washing ceremony.
- July 23: Pope goes to Brazil for his first international trip. Huge crowds turn out, including more than 3 million people on Copacabana Beach on the last day.
- July 29: Pope holds broad, free-ranging conversation with journalists on return flight from Brazil, saying his now-famous phrase: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?”
- Sept 19: Pope, in first major interview, tells Catholic publication that the Church must shake off an obsession with teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality and become more merciful even if it can’t change teachings.
- March 27, 2014: Receives in audience U.S. President Barack Obama at the Vatican.
- April 27: Presides at Holy Mass and Canonization of Blesseds Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII in St. Peter’s Square.
- August 13-18: Apostolic journey to South Korea on the occasion of the 6th Asian Youth Day and the beatification of 123 Korean martyrs.
- January 2015: Visits Philippines and Sri Lanka.