Today marks one year since Jorge Mario Bergoglio became the 266th pontiff of the Catholic Church. Here’s a look back at some of Pope Francis’s most memorable moments during his first year in the Vatican, as reported in PRRI’s Morning Buzz:
- “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” This comment, made during an informal press conference in July, perhaps remains the pontiff’s most memorable quote to date. Delivered along with a call for developing a “new theology” to increase women’s involvement in Catholicism, the pope’s remarks signaled his promotion of a more inclusive approach to Catholicism.
- A majority of Catholics favor both ordaining women (70 percent) and ordaining gay and lesbian people (54 percent) as clergy.
- Pope Francis was back in the news in September, saying the Catholic Church focuses too much on divisive political issues like same-sex marriage and abortion and not enough on being an inclusive “home for all.”
- Sixty percent of American Catholics say the Catholic Church should focus more on social justice and the obligation to help the poor, even if it means focusing less on issues like abortion and the right to life.
- The pope in December criticized unfettered capitalism as a “new tyranny,” attacking the theory of trickle-down economics and urging the wealthy to share with those less fortunate during an apostolic exhortation. His comments drew praise from some but were condemned by economic conservatives, including radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, as “pure Marxism.”
- Of American Catholics, a majority (58 percent) say capitalism in the United States is working either very or somewhat well, compared to 38 percent who report the system is not working well.
- Later that month, Time Magazine named Pope Francis its 2013 Person of the Year in a decision that came as little surprise given the pontiff’s well-publicized efforts to re-chart the Catholic Church’s course.
- Just ahead of the announcement, Global Language Monitor found Pope Francis to be the most talked-about person on Earth.
- In February, a series of surveys in 12 countries with large Roman Catholic populations found an overwhelming number of Catholics worldwide (87 percent) reported Pope Francis was doing an excellent or a good job as pontiff.
- American Catholics overall also hold overwhelmingly positive views of Pope Francis, with 92 percent reporting they have a favorable view of the pontiff.
- And just last week, Pope Francis indicated that while the Catholic Church remains opposed to same-sex marriage, it may be able to support same-sex civil unions.
- Offering validation of same-sex relationships is likely to be well-received by American Catholics, as both white Catholics (58 percent) and Hispanic Catholics (56 percent) support legalizing same-sex marriage.
To keep up to date with Pope Francis, the latest happenings in the Catholic Church, and news at the intersection of religion, values and public life, be sure to sign up for PRRI’s Morning Buzz!