Pope Francis’ 10-year legacy
March 9, 2023 - In his ten years on the chair of St Peter -- and as head of the nearly 1.38 billion-member Roman Catholic Church -- Pope Francis has sought to position the church firmly in the modern world.
Less than a fortnight after Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world by becoming the first pope in 600 years to resign from office, 76-year-old Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected as a successor to St Peter.
The head of the Catholic Church took the name Francis from St Francis of Assisi -- “Il Poverello” -- a man of poverty, peace and love.
Francis abandoned the papal palace to live in a smaller Vatican guest house. He washed the feet of prisoners on Holy Thursday, commemorating the Last Supper of Jesus Christ. He built showers for the homeless in Rome.
In early 2014, Francis announced he wanted to travel the world as a regular Argentine and not a privileged citizen of Vatican City. Francis has visited 60 states, covering almost 410,000 km (255,000 miles).
Talking to The Catholic Weekly, Rev Professor Gerard Kelly from the Catholic Institute of Sydney, Australia, said throughout his papacy, Francis has positioned the church firmly in the modern world.
In 2013, he published his landmark encyclical “Lumen Fidei” (Light of Faith) on the importance of the Christian faith, partly written by Pope Benedict.
In 2015, he released “Laudato Si” (Praised Be), which called for urgent action on climate change, while his 2020’s “Fratelli Tutti” (Brothers All) tackled the need to support each other through the challenges of the Covid pandemic.