It's easy to call Pope Francis the frugal pope. After coming to the papacy in March 2013 he quickly moved to change the image of the Catholic Church.
Gone were the fancy red shoes (that may not have been Prada after all!) and fancy cars. He chose the name Francis for Saint Francis of Assisi, who worked on behalf of the poor. But Pope Francis has a colorful history; he worked as nightclub bouncer before becoming a priest.
In this first year Pope Francis has taken several opportunities to revamp the image of the church:
- He's known to "cold call" people who have written him letters to discuss their issues with them.
- He went viral for having appeared in the first Papal "Selfie"
(take that Raphael)
- He's known to carry his own luggage on Shepherd One, the Vatican's version of Air Force One.
- He uses a 1984 Renault 4 as his car to drive around the Vatican and traded the Popemobile for a Fiat in Brazil.
- He refused to live in the palatial papal apartment, choosing a smaller plain suite in the Vatican.
- He enjoys movies and said he and his family often went to the cinema growing up. The Pope says Fellini's "La Strada" is his favorite.
- He's also a lifelong soccer fan rooting for the appropriately named Argentinean soccer team Saints of San Lorenzo.
- He made worldwide headlines when he kissed the head of a severely disfigured man, and washed the feet of a female Muslim prison inmate.
- He also surprised many when he opened the door for the church to recognize some sort of same-sex union (though he maintained marriage is only between a woman and man).
Below are some of his statements about homosexuality, contraception, abortion and equality that have raised eyebrows and attention from Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
In a surprisingly candid interview with the Jesuit publication America Magazine
, Pope Francis said "Tell me: When God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person? We must always consider the person."
On another occasion he replied:
"I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge."
On abortion, gay marriage and contraception:
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods... The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the Church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time."
On women in the church:
"We must therefore investigate further the role of women in the Church... The challenge today is this: to think about the specific place of women also in those places where the authority of the Church is exercised for various areas of the church.”
“When it comes to social issues, it is one thing to have a meeting to study the problem of drugs in a slum neighborhood and quite another thing to go there, live there and understand the problem from the inside and study it. There is a brilliant letter by Father Arrupe to the Centers for Social Research and Action on poverty, in which he says clearly that one cannot speak of poverty if one does not experience poverty, with a direct connection to the places in which there is poverty."
On the future:
"The thinking of the Church must recover genius and better understand how human beings understand themselves today, in order to develop and deepen the church’s teaching.”