Pope Francis was ordained a priest in 1969 and he will complete his first year as Pope on March 13, 2014. He is the first Jesuit Pope and the first Pope born in Buenos Aires of immigrated Italian parents. Prior to becoming Pope he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. He was Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and he was President of the Bishop's Conference of Argentina. He chose the name Francis because of his commitment to the poor just as St. Francis of Assisi was committed to helping the poor.
Pope Francis brought about many changes during his first year as Pope. Here are 10 highlights of his first year.
1. He named a special commission to investigate the Vatican bank. The bank, accused of years of scandal including a tax haven for the rich and money laundering, disclosed an annual report in October 2013 for the first time in 125 years.
2. He is holding a summit on family issues including contraception, divorce and gay unions.
3. He is welcoming 19 new cardinals into the group from the poorest places on earth including Haiti and Africa particularly, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.
4. He is the first pope to be on the cover of rock music’s Rolling Stone Magazine. (ABC News).
5. Although not much has changed under Pope Francis such as priests cannot be married and one was excommunicated for advocating the ordination of women and gay marriage. He is still regarded as a pope that does not dictate but gives opportunity for dialogue and hope for the future.
6. He is known as the People’s Pope. He rides the bus, takes selfies with visitors, uses his old car as the Popemobile and does not live in the opulence of the Vatican but a small guest house nearby.
7. His attention to the poor is poignant. He spent his birthday with the poor and washed the feet of prisoners on Holy Thursday. He has spoken out on the unfairness of people and the plight of the poor in the 21st Century. He suggests the situation should be looked at in terms of human dignity. He denounces” trickle down” economics, income inequality and poverty.
8. Three Blessed Catholic figures will be canonized as Saints early due to Pope Francis waiving some of the procedures. Jose de Anchieta Llarena born in Spain of wealthy parents pursued a religious life and sent to Brazil. Marie de l’lncarnation an Ursuline Nun born in France, a widow and mother who pursued the religious life and sent to Canada. Francois de Laval born in France waived the rights to his family estate and pursued the religious life and sent to Canada. (Official Vatican Network)
9. He calls for broader opportunities for females in the church, making decisions and holding responsibilities. He emphasizes women’s support with the weak and unprotected. (ABC News)
10. He proposes communion is not to separate it is for the hungry, for those who are not whole so that they can become whole. (Official Vatican Network)
Pope Francis' first year has proven that he is not a bully pope but one who is committed to helping and supporting all people across the world. Pope Francis’ first year as leader of over 1 billion Roman Catholics around the world can best be summed in his own reply in an interview, “Who am I to judge.” (ABC News)