Ten notable moments of Pope Francis' first year

By Marilynn McLachlan

Pope Francis embraces a boy in St. Peter's Square at the end of his weekly audience. Photo / Getty Images
Pope Francis embraces a boy in St. Peter's Square at the end of his weekly audience. Photo / Getty Images

One year ago today, 77-year old Jorge Mario Bergoglio stepped on a balcony overlooking St Peter's Square as the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church.

Named after Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis has had a significant first year and today we reflect on the more notable moments.

Choosing a humble home

For hundreds of years Popes have lived in the Papal Apartments. The large rooms include a medical suite - with equipment for emergency surgery - and a private library. Pope Francis chose not to move into the plush apartments, preferring to live in a Vatican guesthouse because it allows him to 'live in community with others.'

Gallery: The Pope's first year in images


Ditching the popemobile

Pope Paul VI was the first to use a specially designed vehicle to greet crowds in 1976. Since then there have been many designs, some with bulletproof glass. In July last year, a Vatican spokesperson said that Pope Francis prefers to be 'in close communication with the environs around him', and ditched the popemobile for a trip to Brazil.

Inside the Vatican, he sold his Mercedes-Benz and now drives a humble car more suited to his image.

Hugging a disfigured man

53-year old Vinicio Riva suffers from neurofibromatosis type 1, a tumour disorder that has left him with tumours all over his body. He made the trip to Vatican City in November last year and when he saw Vinicio, Pope Francis went to him, wrapped his arms around him and kissed him. "He embraced me without speaking...I quivered. I felt a great warmth," Vincio told CNN.

Named TIME magazine's Person of the Year, 2013

TIME magazine called him 'The People's Pope', and celebrated his humility, charisma and his passion for helping people - particularly the poor.

He was also a cover star on Rolling Stone magazine, the Italian edition of Vanity Fair, the New Yorker and The Advocate - the magazine for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people - where he was also named Person of the Year and had "NO H8" photoshopped onto his cheek.

Dropping the F-bomb

Earlier this month, the Pope had a slip of the tongue during his weekly Sunday blessing. Delivering it in Italian - a language he is not used to speaking - he was meant to say 'caso', which means chance, but instead accidently said 'cazzo', which is Italian for f**k.

Saying to journalists "Who am I to judge?"

After spending time at World Youth Day in Rio in July last year, Pope Francis spent an hour and a half with reporters on his flight back to Rome. When he was asked about gay priests, he replied, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

The Vatican has regarded homosexuality as a 'disorder', and his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, signed a 2005 document saying that men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests.

Allowing a little boy to steal the limelight

When he was giving an address for The Year of Faith to a large crowd in St Peter's Square, a young boy who had been invited to sit on the Pope's platform wandered onto the stage. Wearing a stripy yellow rugby-style top, he went and stood by Pope Francis' chair. The Pontiff looked amused, and as he stood to give his speech several cardinals stepped in to try and encourage the boy to get off the stage.

Video

When Pope Francis stood to give his speech, the boy stood alongside him and at one point wrapped his arms around the Pope's legs in a tight embrace. The Pope gently patted him on the head, before stopping his speech and seating the boy on his chair before continuing.

Acting against the sexual abuse of children by priests

Less than a month after he was nominated, Pope Francis declared that the Catholic Church needed to "act decisively" to root out sexual abuse of children by priests and ensure the perpetrators are punished.

The Catholic Church has been fraught with child sexual abuse claims and cover ups and there at least 65 clergy for whom there are substantiated claims.

He formed a Vatican Commission on Sexual Abuse of Children in Catholic Church last December. The panel of experts will advise him about how to protect children from sexually abusive priests and about how to help victims who have already been harmed.

Despite this, he has been under criticism for not taking enough action yet.

Washing the feet of young offenders

Pope Francis gained worldwide attention when he bent down and washed the feet of 10 young men and two young women during a Mass at a young offenders institute in March last year. It was the first time a Pope has ever washed the feet of a woman. "This is a symbol, it is a sign," he told the group, aged 14 to 21. "Washing your feet means I am at your service."

The ceremony of washing another's feet is important, the Pontiff said, because it shows that "the person who is most high among us must be at the service of others."

Selling his Harley-Davidson for charity

When Harley-Davidson celebrated its 110th anniversary last year, it sent a 1,585cc Dyna Super Glide to Pope Francis as a gift.

The Pope, who has said that he wants to lead a 'poor church,' signed the motorcycle on its tank and put it up for auction to raise funds for Caritas Roma, a soup kitchen and hostel for the homeless in Rome.

A mystery buyer purchased the bike for over 200,000 euros.

- NZ Herald

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