It has been ten years since Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected to the Holy See. On his anniversary, here are ten ways in which he has brought the global Church family on a journey of reform, mercy, and encounter.

1. He is a champion of the poor

Since the very beginning of his Papacy, Pope Francis has always had a heart for the poorest and most marginalised people. He has made our sisters and brothers in greatest need the focus and heart of the Church, always choosing to live in simplicity and solidarity with them. From declining to spend his summer months at Castel Gandolfo (a 400-year-old tradition) to his revolutionary encyclicals such as Laudato Sí, which advocates for a ‘preferential option for the poor’, Pope Francis has always led by example and been outspoken on the cry for justice for our poorest sisters and brothers.

‘I want a Church which is poor and for the poor. They have much to teach us.’

– Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium

2. He is a champion of the environment

The Holy Father has always seen the vital connection between care of the earth and care of the human family. ‘Laudato Sí:on Care of our Common Home’, expressed his heart for the environment and positioned him as a powerful global voice on the climate crisis.

To help all Catholics answer the call to protect the environment, the Holy Father instituted the Laudato Sí Action platform – a website which enables Catholics around the world to pledge a personal or community plan to help the environment. From recycling to policy change, Pope Francis is seen as a global leader in the fight to save our planet.

‘We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it.’

– Pope Francis, Laudato Sí

3. He has furthered interfaith dialogue

In the past ten years, Pope Francis has reached out consistently to people of other faiths. He has made pilgrimages to several Muslim countries including Bahrain, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates, both to visit Christian minorities in those countries, and also to improve Christian-Muslim relations. He has met with leaders of the Jewish faith, reaching out to strengthen ties and concrete action between the two religions, and has brought his passion for encounter to various interfaith initiatives over the decade.

‘Interreligious dialogue is a sign of the times… a providential sign, in the sense that God Himself, in His wise plan, has inspired, in religious leaders and in many others, the desire to encounter and come to know one another in a way respectful of religious differences.’

– Pope Francis, greeting to the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations

4. He has visited communities all over the world

In the past decade, the Holy Father has visited different 60 countries across the world, strengthening diplomatic ties and bringing messages of peace and reconciliation. From his first visit in 2013 to celebrate World Youth Day with 3.5 million pilgrims, to his latest trip in 2023, to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, Pope Francis has always expressed his closeness to all people through his visits and encouraged the faithful on the path of peace and mercy. In 2015, he visited the Philippines to stand in solidarity with its people after Typhoon Haiyan had left it severely damaged and in desperate need. During a wet and windy Mass, Pope Francis said to the congregation:

‘When I witnessed this disaster from Rome, I felt that I had to be here. That is when I decided to come here. I wanted to come to be with you.’

 5. He has brought more women into positions of leadership in the Church

Pope Francis has championed women’s rights and has been outspoken against all forms of violence towards women. More than this, the Holy Father has made efforts to elevate women to positions of leadership within the Church, and the number of women employees in the Vatican is at its highest ever level: one in four employees at the Holy See are now female. In 2021, Pope Francis appointed Alessandra Smerillias Secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development – the highest post ever held by a woman at the Holy See.

‘The organisation of societies worldwide is still far from reflecting clearly that women possess the same dignity and identical rights as men. We say one thing with words, but our decisions and reality tell another story. Indeed, “doubly poor are those women who endure situations of exclusion, mistreatment and violence, since they are frequently less able to defend their rights”.’

– Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, 23

6. He has tackled the stain of abuse within the Church and met with victims

The horror of abuse within the Church and the subsequent wounds caused by secrecy and cover-ups hascaused much heartbreak and anger throughout the global Church Family. In his ten-year Papacy, Pope Francis has not shied away from addressing this dreadful stain on the Church’s life. While there is much more to do, the Holy Father’s work to reform the Church and its processes for dealing with abuse, including his outreach to victims of abuse, have made great strides in atoning for the terrible damage done. One survivor whom Pope Francis met with spoke of the impact of the meeting:

‘As we travelled through the pain, his face, his posture and his occasional words felt sincere, unlike others who through the years had just pretended to listen. We cried and laughed. I went in with a huge backpack of anger and pain and came out of the grave, like Lazarus, feeling that I had a second chance and more motivated than ever to help others. He changed my life.’

– Juan Carlos Cruz Chellew, National Catholic Reporter article

7. He is a passionate advocate for peace

Pope Francis is a tireless advocate for world peace. Throughout the Ukraine war, he has expressed his pain at the terrible cost of conflict. Since long before the official start of war he called for a U-turn and a path of peace; and those pleas have continued. But it is not only Ukraine which has captured the Holy Father’s compassion; he has actively called for and offered to broker peace around the world, recognising that war is not only destructive in the moment it happens, but for decades after.

‘Let us work for peace by weaving and mending, not by cutting and tearing. Let us follow Jesus, and in following him, let us walk together on the path to peace.’

– Pope Francis, ecumenical prayer service, South Sudan

8. He has supported migrants and refugees

Pope Francis has a special place in his heart for those who must flee their homes to escape violence and oppression. Once again calling us to be a global family, he has encouraged everyone to welcome our sisters and brothers in need with open arms. He has even housed refugees in Vatican City, leading once again by example in meeting the needs of all who undertake such perilous journeys in search of new life.

‘In Isaiah’s prophecy, the arrival of foreigners is presented as a source of enrichment: “The abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, and the wealth of the nations shall come to you” (Isaiah 60:5). Indeed, history teaches us that the contribution of migrants and refugees has been fundamental to the social and economic growth of our societies. … Yet this contribution could be all the greater were it optimised and supported by carefully developed programmes and initiatives. Enormous potential exists, ready to be harnessed, if only it is given a chance.’

– Pope Francis, 108th World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2022

9. He has brought the Church to a new level of synodality

Synodality means ‘walking together’. It is an idea established by Pope Paul VI after Vatican II – a time for the Bishops of each region to come together and discuss some of the major issues of the life and processes of the Church. But Pope Francis has moved synodality from an event which takes place every few years to an ongoing conversation which encompasses all voices of the Church. In this way he has given greater prominence to the poorest and most marginalised of our sisters and brothers and encouraged a continuing conversation on the direction and priorities of the global Church family.

‘Dear brothers and sisters, let us have a good journey together!  May we be pilgrims in love with the Gospel and open to the surprises of the Holy Spirit. Let us not miss out on the grace-filled opportunities born of encounter, listening and discernment. In the joyful conviction that, even as we seek the Lord, he always comes with his love to meet us first.’

– Pope Francis, Homily, October 2021.

10. He is a missionary Pope

Pope Francis has a vision of our Church being missionary in nature. Following the lines of his heart for encounter, synodality and outreach, he has said that his dream is for a ‘completely missionary Church’. As the Pope’s chosen charity for World Mission, we at Missio have rejoiced in his message to the whole Church family to be missionary! In particular, the emphasis the Holy Father has placed on World Mission Sunday, and the Extraordinary Month of Mission in October 2019 have strengthened the status and the foundation of mission throughout the global Church. And his support of missionaries throughout the world has brought light and hope to them in their work.

‘The Church must constantly keep pressing forward, beyond her own confines, in order to testify to all the love of Christ. Here I would like to remember and express my gratitude for all those many missionaries who gave their lives in order to ‘press on’ in incarnating Christ’s love towards all the brothers and sisters whom they met.’

– Pope Francis, Message for World Mission Sunday 2022

God bless you Pope Francis!

Please join us today to give thanks for Pope Francis and to pray for his continued leadership of our global Church family. We dedicate the white decade of the Mission Rosary this week for the Holy Father’s intentions.

Pray the Mission Rosary with us each week on Hozana>>

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