First Year as Pope: Top 10 list to understand Pope Francis’ pontificate
It’s been a year now since Pope Francis was elected. In these past 12 months, no one has been left indifferent. From the unusual circumstances under which he was elected, to the so called ‘Francis’ effect that’s made its way across the globe.
As he introduced himself to the world, the first thing Pope Francis did, up from the balcony of St. Peter’s, was bow his head and ask for prayers. The thousands of people gathered out in the Square, began to pray for his pontificate.
“I would like to bless you…but before I’d like to ask all of you for a favor. Before the bishop blesses his flock, I ask that you pray to the Lord, so that He blesses me. The prayer of the people, asking for the Bishop’s blessing.”
It was surprising at first, but soon it became a hallmark of his pontificate.
“Pray for me.”
“Pray for me.”
“Pray for me.”
“Don’t forget, pray for me.”
His personal style also caught the world’s attention. From his dress style to his car.
He kept using the same black shoes he used before the conclave and also the same silver pectoral cross. He refused to use the papal Mercedes, opting instead for an Italian middle class car.
Not just in Italy though. In Brazil, during World Youth Day, he also opted for a simple car.
The crowds followed as the Pope made his way through the streets of Rio, with the windows partly open. Brazilians loved it, but the Pope’s security team wasn’t that amused.
3– PRESS CONFERENCE
Without a doubt, the moment that marked his style was the improvised press conference he gave on the way back from Brazil.
With the Vatican’s spokesman at his side, the Pope had a ‘no question is off limits’ presser, for an hour and 22 minutes.
This marked a new precedent. He has agreed to more than five thorough interviews.
4- THE SICK
The Pope has a special place in his heart for the sick. Before celebrating the first Mass of his pontificate, he stopped the popemobile and embraced an ill person. It was a moving moment and since then the Pope has repeated the same gesture countless times.
Including the embrace of Venicio, at the end of the audience.
The plight of refugees and immigrants who are forced to flee their native country is a major concern of Pope Francis. His very first trip, back in July, was to the Italian island of Lampedusa, where thousands of immigrants have died in their search for a better life. In his speech, the Pope used very direct words to make his point.
July 8, 2013
“Who has cried for the people who were in that boat? Who has cried for the young mothers who brought their children? Who has cried for the men who were looking for ways to support their families?”
As Syria dealt with its civil war and with the threat of an American attack looming, the Pope led a prayer vigil to ask for peace, along with thousands of people. With his constant appeals for peace in conflict ridden countries, the Pope was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
One of the most endearing moments happened at the ‘World Meeting of Families’ when this 6 year old Colombian boy decided he wanted to be next to the Pope at all times. Even as the Pope read his speech. Again, the Pope didn’t seem to mind.
When it comes to Pope Francis, there’s never a lack of mate tea, since Argentine pilgrims usually offer some to the Pope. Images like this one are seen quite frequently. The Pope usually cracks a few jokes along the way.
“The kid is anti-clerical.”
February 14th, 2013
“We all know there is no such thing as the perfect family, or perfect husband or wife. Not to mention … the perfect mother in law.”
9– HIS BRIEFCASE
The Pope’s schedule is always packed. He has meetings in the mornings and in the afternoons, so it goes without saying that he’s always ready to work. The image of Pope Francis carrying his own briefcase, as he boarded a plane to Brazil, outlined his intentions. He wasn’t going to World Youth Day as a tourist, rather he was ready to get things done.
10- BENEDICT XVI
The image of two popes praying together made its way across the globe. Pope Francis has visited Benedict XVI at least four times. The Pope has described him as a wise grandfather, he can consult. The last time they met was during the consistory in St. Peter’s Basilica.
As the Pope begins the second year of his pontificate, more moving and surprising moments are expected. Especially as he heads out to the Holy Land in May and then in October as he leads a Synod on the Family.