10 iconic moments in Pope Francis’ first 10 years as Pope

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis marks the 10th anniversary of his election as Pope on Monday. During this decade, several historic occasions, as well as several unplanned events, helped define the contours and priorities of history’s first Latin American pope. Visits to refugees in Italy and Greece, trips to Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and the coronavirus pandemic and the death of his predecessor are some of the iconic moments that shaped his papacy and influenced the direction of the Catholic Church as a whole.

—- July 8, 2013: Pope Francis travels to the southern Italian island of Lampedusa on his first pastoral visit outside of Rome to denounce the “globalization of indifference” that welcomes migrants who risk their lives trying to reach Europe. The plight of the refugees later became a major concern of his pontificate, including when he returned from Greece in 2016 with 12 Syrian migrants on board his plane.

July 29, 2013: During his first air press conference as pope, Francis is asked about an allegedly gay priest and replies: “Who am I to judge?” His commentary on the flight home from World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro signaled a more forgiving, welcoming tone for LGBTQ Catholics who have long felt marginalized by the church.

Nov. 29, 2015: Francis begins his one-year Jubilee of Mercy opening of the holy gate of Bangui Cathedral and brings his message of peace to the conflict-ridden Central African Republic. His emphasis on the church being a merciful “field hospital” of welcome would long outlive the official anniversary year.

February 13, 2016: “We are brothers,” says Francis as he becomes the first pope he meets with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill. The historic meeting in Havana, Cuba would not be repeated as hoped after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

February 4, 2019: Francis signs a document Commitment to Christian-Muslim cooperation to work for peace with the Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar, the seat of Sunni learning, during the very first papal trip to the Arabian Peninsula. The Human Fraternity document was to become a cornerstone of the Pope’s efforts to build better relations with the Muslim world.

October 21, 2019: Conservative Catholic activists steal three indigenous Amazonian statues from a church in the Vatican area and throw them into the Tiber, claiming they are pagan idols. The so-called “Pachamama” stunt during Francis’ Amazon Synod epitomized the depth of conservative opposition to the pope, which only intensified after he cracked down on the use of the ancient Latin mass.

Nov. 24, 2019: At the memorial for the victims of the US atomic bombing in Hiroshima, Japan, Francis explains that not only the action, but the mere possession of nuclear weapons is “immoral”. Francis’ position reversed the position of the Catholic Church, which had previously held that nuclear deterrence could be morally acceptable in the meantime, so long as it was geared toward mutual, verifiable nuclear disarmament.

March 27, 2020: Francis prays in an eerily empty St. Peter’s Square for an end to the coronavirus pandemic on the day Italy saw its largest spike in COVID-19 deaths. “We realized that we are on the same boat, we are all fragile and disoriented but at the same time important and needed, we are all called to row together now, each of us needs to comfort one another,” he says.

July 26, 2022: On the site of a former residential school in Canada, Francis apologizes to the indigenous peoples for the “catastrophic” and “evil” policy of forcibly assimilation of indigenous peoples into Christian society. His Canadian apology tour followed a 2015 mea culpa in Bolivia for the “sins, offenses and crimes” of Europe’s colonial-era conquest of America.

January 5, 2023: Francis Farewell to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, presided over his funeral in St. Peter’s Square, ending an unprecedented chapter in the history of the 2,000-year-old Catholic Church. Benedict’s resignation in 2013 paved the way for Francis’ election, and the two men lived side by side in the Vatican for a decade as retired and incumbent pope.

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https://www.local10.com/news/world/2023/03/13/10-iconic-moments-in-pope-francis-first-10-years-as-pontiff/ 10 iconic moments in Pope Francis’ first 10 years as Pope

Sarah Y. Kim

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