Pope Francis has been in his position as leader of one billion Roman Catholics for less than a year and, in that time, he has had accomplished amazing achievements. In December of 2013, Time Magazine named Pope Francis their “person of the year.” A prestigious title given to him that people worldwide celebrated and supported. Let’s take a look at a few amazing achievements made by Pope Francis.
The excommunication of the Mafia
On Saturday, June 21, 2014, Pope Francis added to his list of achievements when he announced that the Catholic Church was no longer in need of support from the Italian Mafia. Not only that, he stated that the Mafia members were no longer welcome in the church, and were therefore excommunicated. Excommunication means that they are banished from the Catholic Church, and this also puts them out of communion. During mass, when Pope Francis was addressing this issue, he stated, “Those who in their life have gone along the evil ways, as in the case of the Mafia, they are not with God, they are excommunicated.”
The men who are members of the Mafia in this area are already making threats against Pope Francis, as they consider themselves to be assets to the community and the Catholic Church, as a whole. This certainly isn’t the first time a Pope has spoken out about the Mafia and their unlawful actions, but it is the first time a Pope has even brought up the idea of excommunication of the Mafia, let alone going through with it.
Pope Francis’s vision of economic justice
In November of 2013, Pope Francis created a 50,000 word statement, known as an Apostolic Exhortation, and named “Evangelii Gaundium” (The Joy of the Gospel). In this statement the Pope became a voice for the poor. He blasted free market capitalism, and called for the Church and world leaders to care for their poor population. He insisted that the Catholic Church may be too “obsessed” with certain issues, such as contraceptive use, which suggests that the Church might change its focus in the future. In a challenge to global Capitalism, Pope Francis asked the powerful question, “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”
He also used the document to back up his stance on church teachings of homosexuality and abortion. While he did not speak of acceptance of abortion or homosexuality, he did say that the church has not been supportive of women making difficult, life-changing decisions, and supports ministering the homosexual population.
In yet another amazing achievement made by Pope Francis, the Pontiff brought up the church’s spending, and launched an investigation of the Vatican Bank. The Catholic Church has come under fire for spending an excess of money on non-essential items, and Pope Francis brought it under attack. He made a plea to Cardinals, whose wardrobe often exceeds $20,000 dollars, to dress in a more modest way.
He also demanded a German Bishop explain how he managed to spend over three million dollars on a marble courtyard. Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-Van Elst also spent over $41 million dollars on his own living quarters (including a bathtub that was reportedly over $20,000) and various other church buildings. The Bishop went to Rome where he tried to defend his lavishness. Ultimately the Bishop was unconvincing and stripped of his title. It seems that Pope Francis is staying on top of the unwarranted spending of the Catholic Church, and is determined to make a permanent change.
In October of 2013, Pope Francis prepared for, and created, an “extraordinary synod” that was meant to tackle sensitive “challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” Most people are aware of the Church’s views and positions on gay marriage, homosexuality, abortion, divorce, contraception, etc. While this gathering of high ranking church officials is not meant to change any of the teachings or ways of the Church, it was meant to discuss these controversial topics at length. The fact that a Pope is even willing to discuss these issues is monumental. It suggests that perhaps the Catholic Church recognizes the need for change.
Protection of the Amazon Rainforest
In a weeklong trip to Brazil, last year, Pope Francis met with locals who for years have been fighting to protect the land against ranchers and farmers. He also met with thousands of people in positions of power in Brazil. He pleaded that the Amazon and its natives be protected. He brought up the Church’s history of protecting the Amazon, but called for further work and a fresh start by the Church in the region.
These are just a few amazing achievements made by Pope Francis; there are many more, and surely there are many more to come. As of recent years, the Catholic Church hasn’t been in the news for many positive things. In fact, when they do make the headlines it seems to be for scandalous reasons. However, Pope Francis might be the one to change that. Regardless, he has definitely done quite a lot in less than one year, which suggests the Catholic Church might be on the road to change and improvement.
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