The leader of the worldwide Catholic Church isn’t just known for the usual papal expressions of love, kindness and faith. Pope Francis has also touched millions with his off-script pronouncements and deeds, as well as his rather, ‘normal’ behaviour.
Yeah, like turning ‘rockstar’ and appearing on the cover of ‘Rolling Stones’ or auctioned his Harley Davidson (yes, he had one).
But there is more to the Pope than that. His comments on issues such as abortion, Palestine, homosexuality or celibacy have made headlines around the world.
Let’s take a look at some of them:
On Tuesday, Pope Francis called on priests to forgive women who had abortions. “I am well aware of the pressure that has led women to this decision," Francis wrote in the Vatican announcement released on Tuesday. "I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal,” he wrote.
He wrote that women "with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for" abortion will be forgiven.
While some welcomed the move as a step forward, others pointed out that women didn’t need to be ‘forgiven for abortions’ as they were doing nothing wrong.
The Pope has advised the church by opening a debate on whether divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion. Francis has called for a more merciful approach, insisting that these Catholics are not excommunicated and must be welcomed into the church.
He said broken families should be viewed from the point of view of the children, who often suffer the most as they feel shunned by their local parish due to their parents’ failed relationships.
Divorced Catholics cannot receive communion unless they abstain from sexual relations because their first marriage is still considered valid.
““If someone is gay and searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” he famously said in 2013 when asked about his views on the matter.
He has said that gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten.
His remarks on the gay community were being seen as much less judgmental than his predecessor's position on the issue.
He has condemned the “scourge of drug use”, calling drug an addiction “an evil” and speaking against the legalisation of “recreational drugs”.
He has deplored the commerce “which transcends national and continental borders,” leading to the “inexorable” spread of drug use and applauded the work of government agencies in stopping it.
In June, Pope Francis issued a 184-page papal letter, writing that climate change is a global problem with far reaching environmental and social consequences -- especially for the poor. He blamed apathy and greed and called on developing countries to limit the use of nonrenewable energy and to assist poorer nations.
He put it rather bluntly, "The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish. ... Frequently no measures are taken until after people's health has been irreversibly affected."