On March 13, 2013, Jorge Bergoglio was named the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church, becoming the the spiritual leader to one-sixth of the world’s population.
After adopting the name Pope Francis, the pontiff immediately broke tradition upheld by popes for more than a century by choosing to live more simply and forgoing the luxurious papal accommodations in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace for a simple two-room apartment.
The Bishop of Rome continues to break the mould established by previous papal legacy and has been characterised as a humble man with diplomatic boldness and progressive views compared to his predecessors.
The pope’s leadership style seems to resonate with people. In a Pew poll released earlier this year, nine out of ten American Catholics gave the Pope high marks, and 70% of Americans in general said they viewed him favourably.
Francis was named TIME’s Person of the Year in 2013 “for pulling the papacy out of the palace and into the streets, for committing the world’s largest church to confronting its deepest needs, and for balancing judgment with mercy.”
Here we take a look at how Francis’s career has shaped his role as an influential world leader:
For years, homosexuality has either been largely ignored by the Vatican or categorized as an objectionable disorder: 'Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil,' Pope John Paul II wrote in a letter in 1986.
Known to be John Paul II's enforcer of doctrinal orthodoxy during his rule, or as 'the Pope's Rottweiler,' Pope Benedict XVI reiterated this point in a 2005 letter, noting that men with 'deep-seated homosexual tendencies' should not become priests.
Pope Francis took a more compassionate tone in 2013 after a reporter asked him aboard a papal flight on its way back from Brazil about gay priests. He said, 'If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?'
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