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Pope sees banner first year, but expectations high

From his simple sound bites to his breaking of Vatican rules, Pope Francis has made being Catholic cool in his first year. He might not like his superstar status, but he knows how to work a crowd and he has endeared himself to the public. "Now, people are happy to say 'Well, actually I am a Catholic,' and sometimes they're quite keen to let themselves be known as a Catholic," British Cardinal Vincent Nichols said. "And I think that's the effect of Pope Francis."

Francis the rule-breaker

Francis believes the church has too many "small-minded" rules and hasn't been shy about breaking them. Just two weeks after being elected, he washed the feet of a woman and Muslim during a Holy Thursday ceremony reenacting Jesus' washing of his disciples' feet. Vatican rules state it should be performed on men only.

Jesuit Franciscan or Franciscan Jesuit?

If there ever was an indication the Jesuit from Argentina would be a very different kind of pope, it was his decision to name himself after St. Francis of Assisi, the 13th century friar who gave up his wealth to minister to the poor.

The "slum pope," who is the first pontiff to name himself Francis, has made cold-calls to the sick, elderly and unemployed, and took to heart the saint's call to "rebuild my church" through a process of radical reforms of the Vatican bureaucracy.

Two popes

When Pope Benedict XVI abdicated, he insisted he would remain "hidden from the world" in prayer. But Francis has slowly coaxed him out of retirement and given him an increasingly public role in the church, believing that he shouldn't be packed away in a museum like a "statue."

Looking ahead

Francis has a high-profile trip to the Holy Land in May and a visit to South Korea in August where he will likely make an impassioned plea for peace on the divided peninsula.

In between, he must forge ahead with the unsettling reforms of the Vatican bureaucracy, where he has created a new finance secretariat to parallel the secretariat of state and where an overhaul of the Vatican bank looms large.

Associated Press

Pope sees banner first year, but expectations high 03/12/14 [Last modified: Thursday, March 13, 2014 10:52am]
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