A Look Back at 2013 With Pope Francis

Pope Francis 2Time magazine chose Pope Francis as its Man of the Year for 2013. The Pope edged out several other high-profile candidates, none of whom could match this one man’s widespread appeal. Looking back at 2013 with Pope Francis one cannot but feel a sense of renewed hope. So just what is it that makes Pope Francis so remarkable?

The Pope stands tall as a man of true conviction and action. The former Cardinal and Archbishop of Buenos Aires had long been known as a priest who ministered to the real needs of real people and none of that heart for service was left behind when Jorge Bergoglio ascended to the seat of St Peter in March 2013.

He is a Pope of several firsts. For starters, he is the first to assume the name of St Francis. St Francis of Assisi was a man who turned his back on family wealth in order to share the gospel with humble people. This saint and founder of an order that followed an austere, self-supporting lifestyle was wholly devoted to preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ. Pope Francis has chosen a name that effectively defines
his outlook on ministry.

To a world that seems jaded by the self-serving actions of the powerful, Pope Francis is like a breath of fresh air. A leader who believes in humble service and who exemplifies the message he preaches to others.

When he moved to the Vatican, Pope Francis astounded a watching world by refusing the palatial residence in favor of more humble apartments. He refused to be driven around in a luxurious (and safe) vehicle, but accepted instead a 1984 Renault. He chose as his first public celebrations, acts of servitude toward the lowly, washing the feet of prisoners, for example.

He is also the first non-European to be chosen as Pope in more than 1,000 years. The break with tradition which elected Pope Francis has been of monumental importance in terms of how the church and its leadership are perceived around the globe.

Though only in office since March of 2013, the Pope has shown a talent for handling the challenges facing the church without being sidetracked from its central mission. The Pope has not promised to abrogate church teaching or doctrine, but he has expressed willingness to dialogue. He is a leader who puts feet to his words and is ready to share words with those who feel excluded.

Pope Francis describes the church as a military field hospital – a place of comfort and healing for those crushed by the cruelties of life. And he expects those under him, including his flock, to be out on the streets begrimed from the work of meeting needs. This kind of servant-leadership is what a heart-sick world is looking for. A look at 2013 with Pope Francis is a look at how one true servant can upend a world of cynicism and despair. For pictures, prayer cards, bookmarks and other religious items commemorating the Pope, check out The Printery House.