Pope Francis presided over the first canonizations of his pontificate on 12 May 2013 in which he canonized Antonio Primaldo and his 812 companions as well as the nuns Laura of Saint Catherine of Siena and Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavalia – in this first canonization he surpassed the record of Pope John Paul II in canonizing the most saints in a pontificate. Francis approved the equipollent canonization of Angela of Foligno the following 9 October and then the Jesuit Peter Faber the following 17 December. Francis canonised Martyrs of Otranto – 813 inhabitants of Otranto who had been executed by the Ottomans in 1480.
On 31 October 2016, Pope Francis commemorated the 499th anniversary of the Reformation with Lutherans in Sweden. This event opened the 500th year since the Reformation began with Martin Luther posting his Ninety-five Theses in Wittenberg in 1517. The Pope visited the 950 year old Lund Cathedral, located in Sweden's southernmost and originally Danish province of Scania. He celebrated an ecumenical liturgy together with the president of the Lutheran World Federation Bishop Dr. Munib Younan. Pope Francis expressed his shared desire with leaders of the Church of Sweden to achieve full communion, but said more ecumenical work needed to be done in order to work towards communion. The two churches called for focusing on what unites their faith rather than what separates them from each other (Pope Francis previously made a similar treaty with the Orthodox Church. ) The following day the Pope conducted a Catholic mass at a football stadium in Malmö.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born on 17 December 1936 in Flores, a neighborhood of Buenos Aires. He was the eldest of five children of Mario José Bergoglio (1908–1959) and Regina María Sívori (1911–1981). Mario Bergoglio was an Italian immigrant accountant born in Portacomaro (Province of Asti) in Italy's Piedmont region. Regina Sívori was a housewife born in Buenos Aires to a family of northern Italian (Piedmontese-Genoese) origin. Mario José's family left Italy in 1929 to escape the fascist rule of Benito Mussolini. According to María Elena Bergoglio (b. 7 February 1948), the Pope's only living sibling, they did not emigrate for economic reasons. His other siblings were Alberto Horacio (17 July 1942 – 15 June 2010), Oscar Adrián (30 January 1938-deceased) and Marta Regina (24 August 1940 – 11 July 2007). Two great-nephews, Antonio and Joseph, died in a traffic collision. His niece, Cristina Bergoglio, is a painter based in Madrid, Spain.
On 6 December 2019, Pope Francis made a statement to politicians in regards to hate towards homosexuals, gypsies, and Jews. Pope Francis quoted saying "It is not coincidental that at times there is a resurgence of symbols typical of Nazism." Furthermore, he made statement as departing from his address, "I must confess to you that when I hear a speech (by) someone responsible for order or for a government, I think of speeches by Hitler in 1934, 1936." "With the persecution of Jews, gypsies, and people with homosexual tendencies, today these actions are typical (and) represent 'par excellence' a culture of waste and hate. That is what was done in those days and today it is happening again." However, Pope Francis did not target a specific politician or group of politicians when making the statements.
Pope Francis (Latin: Franciscus; Italian: Francesco; Spanish: Francisco; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio; 17 December 1936) is the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State. Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first pope from outside Europe since the Syrian Gregory III, who reigned in the 8th century.
Bergoglio found his vocation to the priesthood while he was on his way to celebrate the Spring Day. He passed by a church to go to confession, and was inspired by the priest. Bergoglio studied at the archdiocesan seminary, Inmaculada Concepción Seminary, in Villa Devoto, Buenos Aires, and, after three years, entered the Society of Jesus as a novice on 11 March 1958. Bergoglio has said that, as a young seminarian, he had a crush on a girl he met and briefly doubted about continuing the religious career. As a Jesuit novice he studied humanities in Santiago, Chile. At the conclusion of his novitiate in the Society of Jesus, Bergoglio officially became a Jesuit on 12 March 1960, when he made the religious profession of the initial, perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience of a member of the order.
In 1960, Bergoglio obtained a licentiate in philosophy from the Colegio Máximo de San José in San Miguel, Buenos Aires Province. He taught literature and psychology at the Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepción, a high school in Santa Fe, from 1964 to 1965. In 1966, he taught the same courses at the Colegio del Salvador in Buenos Aires.
In 1967, Bergoglio finished his theological studies and was ordained to the priesthood on 13 December 1969, by Archbishop Ramón José Castellano. He attended the Facultades de Filosofía y Teología de San Miguel (Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel), a seminary in San Miguel. He served as the master of novices for the province there and became a professor of theology.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bergoglio was ordained a Catholic priest in 1969, and from 1973 to 1979 was Argentina's provincial superior of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). He became the archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998 and was created a cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II. He led the Argentine Church during the December 2001 riots in Argentina. The administrations of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner considered him a political rival. Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on 28 February 2013, a papal conclave elected Bergoglio as his successor on 13 March. He chose Francis as his papal name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi.
In 2000, Bergoglio was the only church official to reconcile with Jerónimo Podestá, a former bishop who had been suspended as a priest after opposing the Argentine Revolution military dictatorship in 1972. He defended Podestá's wife from Vatican attacks on their marriage. That same year, Bergoglio said the Argentine Catholic Church needed "to put on garments of public penance for the sins committed during the years of the dictatorship" in the 1970s, during the Dirty War.
Bergoglio completed his final stage of spiritual training as a Jesuit, tertianship, at Alcalá de Henares, Spain. He took the final fourth vow (obedience to the pope) in the Society of Jesus on 22 April 1973. He was named provincial superior of the Society of Jesus in Argentina on 31 July 1973 and served until 1979. He made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1973, shortly after being named provincial superior, but his stay was shortened by the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War. After the completion of his term of office, in 1980 he was named the rector of the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel in San Miguel. Before taking up this new appointment, he spent the first three months of 1980 in Ireland to learn English, staying at the Jesuit Centre at the Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Dublin. After returning to Argentina to take up his new post at San Miguel, Bergoglio served in that capacity until 1986. He was removed as rector by the Jesuit superior-general Peter Hans Kolvenbach because Bergoglio's policy of educating the young Jesuits in direct pastoral work and in popular religiosity was opposed to the worldwide trend in the Society of Jesus of emphasizing social justice based on sociological analysis, especially promoted by the Centro de Investigaciones y Accion Social (CIAS).
In May 2013, Pope Francis met with Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria in the Vatican. The meeting coincided with the 40th anniversary of the first visit by a Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria to the Vatican; when Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria met with Pope Paul VI on 10 May 1973. Francis reflected on the close relationship between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, saying that the visit "strengthens the bonds of friendship and brotherhood that already exist between the See of Peter and the See of Mark" and praised the Commission for Theological Dialogue for preparing ground for dialogue between the Catholic Church and Oriental Orthodox churches. Pope Francis also acknowledged the two churches shared beliefs in the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, Marian devotion, apostolic traditions, and the seven sacraments. In May 2016, Pope Francis sent a letter to Tawadros II, acknowledging their shared commitment to holiness and defending the dignity of human life and celebrating friendship between Catholics and Coptic Orthodox Christians. The Pope said, "we are able even now to make visible the communion uniting us."
Bergoglio was the subject of allegations regarding the Navy's kidnapping of two Jesuit priests, Orlando Yorio and Franz Jalics, in May 1976, during Argentina's Dirty War. He feared for the priests' safety and had tried to change their work prior to their arrest; however, contrary to reports, he never tried to throw them out of the Jesuit order. In 2005, Myriam Bregman, a human rights lawyer, filed a criminal complaint against Bergoglio, as superior in the Society of Jesus of Argentina, accusing him of involvement in the kidnapping. Her complaint did not specify the nature of Bergoglio's alleged involvement; Bergoglio's spokesman flatly denied the allegations. The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed. The priests were tortured, but were found alive five months later, drugged and semi-naked. Yorio accused Bergoglio of effectively handing them over to the death squads by declining to tell the authorities that he endorsed their work. Yorio, who died in 2000, said in a 1999 interview that he believed that Bergoglio did nothing "to free us, in fact just the opposite". Jalics initially refused to discuss the complaint after moving into seclusion in a German monastery. However, two days after the election of Pope Francis, Jalics issued a statement confirming the kidnapping and attributing the cause to a former lay colleague who became a guerrilla, was captured, then named Yorio and Jalics when interrogated. The following week, Jalics issued a second, clarifying statement: "It is wrong to assert that our capture took place at the initiative of Father Bergoglio (…) the fact is, Orlando Yorio and I were not denounced by Father Bergoglio."
Pope Francis visited Ireland in 2018, in what was the first papal tour of the country since John Paul II's historic trip in 1979.
Pope Francis's canonization of Archbishop of San Salvador Óscar Romero, who was martyred in March 1980 as he said Mass, is seen as Francis's strong support for the poor and for those who defend that stance.
In March 2013, 21 British Catholic peers and Members of Parliament from all parties asked Francis to allow married men in Great Britain to be ordained as priests, keeping celibacy as the rule for bishops. They asked it on the grounds that it would be anomalous that married Anglican priests can be received into the Catholic Church and ordained as priests, by means of either the Pastoral Provision of 20 June 1980 or the 2009 Anglican ordinariate, but married Catholic men cannot do the same.
When Bergoglio became Pope, an alleged photo of him giving the sacramental bread to dictator Jorge Rafael Videla became viral in social networks. It has also been used by the newspaper Página/12. The photo was soon proved to be false. It was revealed that the priest, whose face is not visible in the photo, was Carlos Berón de Astrada. The photo was taken at the church "Pequeña Obra de la Divina Providencia Don Orione" in 1990, not during the Dirty War, and after Videla's presidential pardon. The photo was produced by the agency AFP and it was initially published by the Crónica newspaper.
Bergoglio was asked in 1992 by Jesuit authorities not to reside in Jesuit houses, because of continued tensions with Jesuit leaders and scholars, a sense of Bergoglio's "dissent," views of his Catholic orthodoxy and his opposition to theology of liberation, and his work as auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires. From then on, he did not visit Jesuit houses and was in "virtual estrangement from the Jesuits" until after his election as pope.
Bergoglio was named Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992 and ordained on 27 June 1992 as titular bishop of Auca, with Cardinal Antonio Quarracino, archbishop of Buenos Aires, serving as principal consecrator. He chose as his episcopal motto Miserando atque eligendo. It is drawn from Saint Bede's homily on Matthew 9:9–13: "because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him".
In 2014, Pope Francis proposed the abolition of both capital punishment and life imprisonment in a meeting with representatives of the International Association of Penal Law, suggesting that states should find another way to protect people from aggression, and includes deaths caused by police brutality and extrajudicial punishment. He cited the "traditional teaching of the church" that accepted the death penalty in cases when there are no other options to protect the people (in line with the Catechism as adapted by John Paul II in 1995), but considered that nowadays such cases may be minimal or even nonexistent. He also stated that life imprisonment, recently removed from the Vatican penal code, was just a variation of the death penalty. In 2018, he changed the Catechism of the Catholic Church to condemn the death penalty "under all circumstances".
On 3 June 1997, Bergoglio was appointed coadjutor archbishop of Buenos Aires with right of automatic succession. Upon Quarracino's death on 28 February 1998, Bergoglio became metropolitan archbishop of Buenos Aires. In that role, Bergoglio created new parishes and restructured the archdiocese administrative offices, led pro-life initiatives, and created a commission on divorces. One of Bergoglio's major initiatives as archbishop was to increase the Church's presence in the slums of Buenos Aires. Under his leadership, the number of priests assigned to work in the slums doubled. This work led to him being called the "Slum Bishop".
On 6 November 1998, while remaining archbishop of Buenos Aires, he was named ordinary for those Eastern Catholics in Argentina who lacked a prelate of their own rite. Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk has said that Bergoglio understands the liturgy, rites, and spirituality of his Greek Catholic Church and always "took care of our Church in Argentina" as ordinary for Eastern Catholics during his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires.
Fernando de la Rúa replaced Carlos Menem as president of Argentina in 1999. As an archbishop, Bergoglio celebrated the annual Mass at the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral on the First National Government holiday, 25 May. In 2000, Bergoglio criticized the perceived apathy of society. Argentina faced an economic depression at the time, and the Church criticized the fiscal austerity of the government, which increased poverty. De la Rúa asked the Church to promote a dialogue between the leaders of economic and political sectors to find a solution for the crisis. He claims that he talked with Bergoglio and proposed to take part in the meeting, but Bergoglio would have told him that the meeting was cancelled because of a misunderstanding by De la Rúa's assistant, who may have declined the president's assistance. Bishop Jorge Casaretto considers it unlikely, as De la Rúa only made the request in newspaper interviews, but never made a formal request to the Church.
During a 48-hour public servant strike in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bergoglio criticized unequal treatment of the judiciary to poor and rich people. In 2002, during an economic crisis, Bergoglio harshly criticized those in power, saying, "[l]et's not tolerate the sad spectacle of those who no longer know how to lie and contradict themselves to hold onto their privileges, their rapaciousness, and their ill-earned wealth". During a May 2010 Mass celebrated by twenty bishops commemorating the Argentina Bicentennial in front of the basilica of Luján, an important Catholic institution and destination of pilgrimage, Bergoglio criticized the reduced social concern over poverty and exhorted Catholics to ask the Virgin of Luján to "take care of our motherland, particularly those who are most forgotten". In line with the Catholic Church's efforts to care for AIDS victims, in 2001 he visited a hospice where he washed and kissed the feet of twelve AIDS patients. Pope Francis spoke out over the collapse of Rana Plaza garment factory in April 2013, which killed over a thousand people, and condemned the low pay workers received.
At the consistory of 21 February 2001, Archbishop Bergoglio was created a cardinal by Pope John Paul II with the title of cardinal priest of San Roberto Bellarmino, a church served by Jesuits and named for one; he was formally installed in that church the following 14 October. When he traveled to Rome for the ceremony, he and his sister María Elena visited the village in northern Italy where their father was born. As cardinal, Bergoglio was appointed to five administrative positions in the Roman Curia. He was a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Congregation for the Clergy, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Commission for Latin America. Later that year, when Cardinal Edward Egan returned to New York following the September 11 attacks, Bergoglio replaced him as relator (recording secretary) in the Synod of Bishops, and, according to the Catholic Herald, created "a favourable impression as a man open to communion and dialogue".
During police repression of the riots of December 2001, he contacted the Ministry of the Interior and asked that the police distinguish rioters engaged in acts of vandalism from peaceful protesters.
As provincial superior of the Jesuits in Argentina in the 1980s, Bergoglio was critical of Jesuits who took to violence in opposing the government, but he succeeded in saving two of them from execution. In 2005 as archbishop of Buenos Aires he wrote in the preface to a book on the Catholic Church in Latin America, Una apuesta por América Latina (A Commitment to Latin America) by Guzmán Carriquiry Lecour, that the proponents of liberation theology were unable to reformulate it after the collapse of Marxism, and it thus became an anachronism. His theologian of reference was Juan Carlos Scannone, a fellow Jesuit who had developed a theology centered on the "religious devotion of the common people".
As a cardinal, Bergoglio was associated with Communion and Liberation, a Catholic evangelical lay movement of the type known as associations of the faithful. He sometimes made appearances at the annual gathering known as the Rimini Meeting held during the late summer months in Italy. In 2005, Cardinal Bergoglio authorized the request for beatification—the third step towards sainthood—for six members of the Pallottine community murdered in the San Patricio Church massacre. At the same time, Bergoglio ordered an investigation into the murders themselves, which had been widely blamed on the National Reorganization Process, the military junta that ruled Argentina at the time.
Francis also said that some cardinal electors had jokingly suggested to him that he should choose either "Adrian", since Pope Adrian VI had been a reformer of the church, or "Clement" to settle the score with Pope Clement XIV, who had suppressed the Jesuit order. In February 2014, it was reported that Bergoglio, had he been elected in 2005, would have chosen the pontifical name of "John XXIV" in honor of Pope John XXIII. It was said that he told Cardinal Francesco Marchisano: "John, I would have called myself John, like the Good Pope; I would have been completely inspired by him".
After Pope John Paul II died on 2 April 2005, Bergoglio attended his funeral and was considered one of the papabile for succession to the papacy. He participated as a cardinal elector in the 2005 papal conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI. In the National Catholic Reporter, John L. Allen, Jr. reported that Bergoglio was a frontrunner in the 2005 conclave. In September 2005, the Italian magazine Limes published claims that Bergoglio had been the runner-up and main challenger to Cardinal Ratzinger at that conclave and that he had received 40 votes in the third ballot, but fell back to 26 at the fourth and decisive ballot. The claims were based on a diary purportedly belonging to an anonymous cardinal who had been present at the conclave. According to the Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, this number of votes had no precedent for a Latin American papabile. La Stampa reported that Bergoglio was in close contention with Ratzinger during the election, until he made an emotional plea that the cardinals should not vote for him. According to Tornielli, Bergoglio made this request to prevent the conclave from delaying too much in the election of a pope.
On 8 November 2005, Bergoglio was elected president of the Argentine Episcopal Conference for a three-year term (2005–08). He was reelected to another three-year term on 11 November 2008. He remained a member of that commission's permanent governing body, president of its committee for the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, and a member of its liturgy committee for the care of shrines. While head of the Argentine Catholic bishops' conference, Bergoglio issued a collective apology for his church's failure to protect people from the Junta during the Dirty War. When he turned 75 in December 2011, Bergoglio submitted his resignation as archbishop of Buenos Aires to Pope Benedict XVI as required by canon law. Still, as he had no coadjutor archbishop, he stayed in office, waiting for an eventual replacement appointed by the Vatican.
In December 2014, Pope Francis declined to meet with the 14th Dalai Lama, the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. According to a New York Times report, a Vatican spokesman said, "Pope Francis obviously holds the Dalai Lama in very high regard, but he will not be meeting any of the Nobel [Peace] laureates." The last meeting between the Dalai Lama and a pope was with Benedict XVI in 2006. In November 2015, Pope Francis met with that year's Nobel Peace Prize laureates from Tunisia.
When Bergoglio celebrated Mass at the Cathedral for the 2004 First National Government holiday, President Néstor Kirchner attended and heard Bergoglio request more political dialogue, reject intolerance, and criticize exhibitionism and strident announcements. Kirchner celebrated the national day elsewhere the following year and the Mass in the Cathedral was suspended. In 2006, Bergoglio helped the fellow Jesuit Joaquín Piña to win the elections in the Misiones Province and prevent an amendment of the local constitution that would allow indefinite re-elections. Kirchner intended to use that project to start similar amendments at other provinces, and eventually to the national constitution. Kirchner considered Bergoglio as a political rival to the day he died in October 2010. Bergoglio's relations with Kirchner's widow and successor, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, have been similarly tense. In 2008, Bergoglio called for national reconciliation during disturbances in the country's agricultural regions, which the government interpreted as a support for anti-government demonstrators. The campaign to enact same-sex marriage legislation was a particularly tense period in their relations.
Bergoglio has close ties to the Jewish community of Argentina, and attended Rosh Hashanah (Jewish new year) services in 2007 at a synagogue in Buenos Aires. He told the Jewish congregation during his visit that he went to the synagogue to examine his heart, "like a pilgrim, together with you, my elder brothers". After the 1994 AMIA bombing of a Jewish Community Center that killed 85 people, Bergoglio was the first public figure to sign a petition condemning the attack and calling for justice. Jewish community leaders around the world noted that his words and actions "showed solidarity with the Jewish community" in the aftermath of this attack.
Bergoglio made it his custom to celebrate the Holy Thursday ritual washing of feet in places such as jails, hospitals, retirement homes or slums. In 2007, just two days after Benedict XVI issued new rules for using the liturgical forms that preceded the Second Vatican Council, Cardinal Bergoglio established a fixed place for a weekly Mass in this "extraordinary form" of the Roman rite. It was celebrated weekly.
Elected at the age of 76, Francis was reported to be healthy and his doctors have said his missing lung tissue, removed in his youth, does not have a significant impact on his health. The only concern would be decreased respiratory reserve if he had a respiratory infection. In the past, one attack of sciatica in 2007 prevented him from attending a consistory and delayed his return to Argentina for several days. Francis is the first Jesuit pope. This was a significant appointment, because of the at times tense relations between the Society of Jesus and the Holy See. But Bergoglio had come in second to Cardinal Ratzinger on all the ballots in the 2005 conclave, appearing as the only other viable candidate. He is also the first from the Americas, and the first from the Southern Hemisphere. Many media reported him as being the first non-European pope, but he is actually the 11th; the previous was Gregory III from Syria, who died in 741. Moreover, although Francis was not born in Europe, he is ethnically European.
While he has said that the greatest poverty is "the lack of Christ," and the "only one real kind of poverty" is "not living as children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ", Francis has also been very outspoken against material poverty. At a meeting of Latin American bishops in 2007, Bergoglio said that, despite the economic growth, poverty had not been reduced in the continent, and asked for a better income distribution. On 30 September 2009, Bergoglio spoke at a conference organized by the Argentina City Postgraduate School (EPOCA) at the Alvear Palace Hotel in which he quoted the 1992 "Documento de Santo Domingo" by the Latin American Episcopal Conference, saying "extreme poverty and unjust economic structures that cause great inequalities" are violations of human rights. He went on to describe social debt as "immoral, unjust, and illegitimate".
Pope Francis opposes same-sex marriage. He spoke out against the 2010 proposal to legalize same-sex marriage in Argentina, which was enacted that year. At the time, his then-spokesperson said "We believe that we must propose more comprehensive civil union rights than currently exist, but no gay marriage." His support for civil unions in 2010 was later widely reported.
A former head of the World Jewish Congress, Israel Singer, reported that he worked with Bergoglio in the early 2000s, distributing aid to the poor as part of a joint Jewish–Catholic program called "Tzedaká". Singer noted that he was impressed with Bergoglio's modesty, remembering that "if everyone sat in chairs with handles [arms], he would sit in the one without." Bergoglio also co-hosted a Kristallnacht memorial ceremony at the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral in 2012, and joined a group of clerics from a number of different religions to light candles in a 2012 synagogue ceremony on the occasion of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.
In 2013, Francis initially reaffirmed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's program to reform the U.S. Leadership Conference of Women Religious, initiated under his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. The New York Times reported that the Vatican had formed the opinion in 2012 that the sisters' group was tinged with feminist influences, focused too much on ending social and economic injustice and not enough on stopping abortion, and permitted speakers at its meetings who questioned church doctrine. However, in April 2015 the investigation was brought to a close. The timing of the closure may have anticipated a visit by Francis to the U.S. in September 2015.
In November 2012 Pope Benedict proclaimed a "Year of Faith" and almost completed the encyclical ''Lumen Fidei'' (Light of Faith), to which Pope Francis "added a few contributions" while preparing the final draft. In November 2013, at the end of the Year of Faith, Francis came out with what he called the programmatic of his own pontificate, the apostolic exhortation ''Evangelii Gaudium'' (Joy of the Gospel). In this he called for "a missionary and pastoral conversion" whereby the laity would fully share in the missionary task of the church. In both his first homily as pope and in his first address to the cardinals, Francis talked about walking in the presence of Jesus Christ and stressed the church's mission to announce him. In the audience with the cardinals, he emphasized the concept of "encounter with Jesus":
Religious leaders in Buenos Aires have mentioned that Bergoglio promoted interfaith ceremonies at the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral. For example, in November 2012 he brought leaders of the Jewish, Muslim, Evangelical, and Orthodox Christian faiths together to pray for a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflicts. Rabbi Alejandro Avruj praised Bergoglio's interest in interfaith dialogue and his commitment to mend religious divisions.
As pope, Francis has repeatedly spoken about the need for the church to welcome and love all people, regardless of their sexual orientation. Speaking about gay people in 2013, he said that "the key is for the church to welcome, not exclude and show mercy, not condemnation." In July of that year, he said "If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this in a beautiful way, ... it says: 'no one should marginalize these people for this, they must be integrated into society.'"
In 2013, Mark Hanson, then presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), greeted the news of Bergoglio's election with a public statement that praised his work with Lutherans in Argentina.
In 2013, Pope Francis received Theodore II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria, in the Vatican.
At his first audience on 16 March 2013, Francis told journalists that he had chosen the name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, and had done so because he was especially concerned for the well-being of the poor. He explained that, as it was becoming clear during the conclave voting that he would be elected the new bishop of Rome, the Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes had embraced him and whispered, "Don't forget the poor", which had made Bergoglio think of the saint. Bergoglio had previously expressed his admiration for St. Francis, explaining that "He brought to Christianity an idea of poverty against the luxury, pride, vanity of the civil and ecclesiastical powers of the time. He changed history."
Bergoglio was elected pope on 13 March 2013, the second day of the 2013 papal conclave, taking the papal name Francis. Francis was elected on the fifth ballot of the conclave. The Habemus papam announcement was delivered by the cardinal protodeacon, Jean-Louis Tauran. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn later said that Bergoglio was elected following two supernatural signs, one in the conclave and hence confidential, and a Latin-American couple of friends of Schönborn who whispered Bergoglio's name in Schönborn's ear; Schönborn commented "if these people say Bergoglio, that's an indication of the Holy Spirit".
In March 2013, a new song was dedicated to Francis and released in Brazilian Portuguese, European Portuguese, and Italian, titled Come Puoi ("How You Can"). Also in March, Pablo Buera, the mayor of La Plata, Argentina, announced that the city had renamed a section of a street leading up to a local cathedral Papa Francisco. There are already efforts to name other streets after him, as well as a school where he studied as a child. A proposal to create a commemorative coin as a tribute to Pope Francis was made in Argentina's lower house on 28 November 2013. On the coins it would read, "Tribute from the Argentine People to Pope Francis." beneath his face. As of May 2013, sales of papal souvenirs, a sign of popularity, were up.
On 16 March 2013, Pope Francis asked all those in senior positions of the Roman Curia to provisionally continue in office. He named Alfred Xuereb as his personal secretary. On 6 April he named José Rodríguez Carballo as secretary for the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, a position that had been vacant for several months. Francis abolished the bonuses paid to Vatican employees upon the election of a new pope, amounting to several million Euros, opting instead to donate the money to charity. He also abolished the €25,000 annual bonus paid to the cardinals serving on the Board of Supervisors for the Vatican bank.
On 31 March 2013, Francis used his first Easter homily to make a plea for peace throughout the world, specifically mentioning the Middle East, Africa, and North and South Korea. He also spoke out against those who give in to "easy gain" in a world filled with greed, and made a plea for humanity to become a better guardian of creation by protecting the environment. He said that "[w]e ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace." Although the Vatican had prepared greetings in 65 languages, Francis chose not to read them. According to the Vatican, the pope "at least for now, feels at ease using Italian, the everyday language of the Holy See".
Pope Francis held his papal inauguration on 19 March 2013 in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican. He celebrated Mass in the presence of various political and religious leaders from around the world. In his homily Pope Francis focused on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, the liturgical day on which the Mass was celebrated.
Speaking to journalists and media employees on 16 March 2013, Pope Francis said he would bless everyone silently, "given that many of you do not belong to the Catholic Church, and others are not believers." In his papal address on 20 March, he said the "attempt to eliminate God and the Divine from the horizon of humanity" resulted in violence, but described as well his feelings about nonbelievers: "[W]e also sense our closeness to all those men and women who, although not identifying themselves as followers of any religious tradition, are nonetheless searching for truth, goodness and beauty, the truth, goodness and beauty of God. They are our valued allies in the commitment to defending human dignity, in building a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in safeguarding and caring for creation."
Francis had a warm relationship with Israeli President Shimon Peres, who visited the pope in April 2013 and invited him to Israel. Francis traveled to Israel in May 2014 and met with Peres at the presidential residence. During his trip, Francis invited both Peres and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to join him in Rome to "pray for peace", which Peres and Abbas did in June 2014. After leaving the presidency, Peres visited Francis again in Rome in September 2014 and June 2016.
On 13 April 2013, he named eight cardinals to a new Council of Cardinal Advisers to advise him on revising the organizational structure of the Roman Curia. The group included several known as critics of Vatican operations and only one member of the Curia. They are Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Vatican City State governorate; Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa from Chile; Oswald Gracias from India; Reinhard Marx from Germany; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; George Pell from Australia; Seán O'Malley from the United States; and Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga from Honduras. He appointed Bishop Marcello Semeraro secretary for the group and scheduled its first meeting for 1–3 October.
Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel consulted Francis on 18 May 2013, and later the same day called for more stringent controls of financial markets. Francis has referred many times to the Eurozone crisis that affect Greece and Catholic Southern European nations. Nevertheless, Pope Francis considers that starvation and homeless people are bigger problems than the financial crises. George Haley of New Haven University said that Francis thinks that capitalism should reduce income disparity, and proposed that he used the diplomatic influence of the Vatican to suggest changes in national economies. Rohit Arora is concerned that Francis has not come up with any specific way to solve income inequality and believes if the pope is serious he should do so. Joseph Pastore believes the wealth of the Catholic Church prevents Francis from taking a polarizing position and is unsure how far Francis can reform the Church.
Pope Francis has referred to the "obsession" of some Catholics with a few issues like "abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods". He called for a new balance in the church's pastoral ministry, focusing on what attracts and "makes the heart burn". He has however expressed his opposition to both the practice and legality of abortion. In May 2013, Francis unexpectedly participated in Italy's anti-abortion march in Rome, asking its participants to protect human life "from the moment of conception". Also, as Ireland (a traditionally very Catholic country) was preparing legislation to legalize abortion in limited cases, Francis sent a message to the Irish asking them to protect the lives of both the unborn and vulnerable people. Also in May 2013, during a Wednesday audience Francis officially blessed the pro-life march in Szczecin, Poland, one of Europe's largest pro-life events and, speaking in Italian, encouraged the Poles to defend the unborn. He maintained that human life should be respected all the way from conception to natural death.
Some atheists hoped Francis would prove to be progressive on issues like poverty and social inequality, while others were more skeptical that he would be "interested in a partnership of equals". In May 2013, Francis said all who do good can be redeemed through Jesus, including atheists. Francis said God "has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! Even the atheists. Everyone!" Amid the ensuant controversy, Carl E. Olson said Francis's words were fundamental Christian teaching dating back to the Apostle Paul and Fr. Dwight Longenecker wrote, "Unfortunately for those who wish to paint Pope Francis as a lovable liberal, in fact, the Pope is simply affirming certain truths that any somewhat knowledgable Catholic will uphold." A spokesman for the Vatican, Father Thomas Rosica, issued an "explanatory note" that non-Catholics who "know" the Catholic Church but do not convert "cannot be saved", and only those who "sincerely seek God…can attain eternal salvation". Hendrik Hertzberg criticised Rosica in The New Yorker magazine, and speculated that there may be major internal disagreement between supporters and opponents of Vatican II in the Catholic Church.
Gregory Venables, Anglican bishop of Argentina and former primate of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America, said that Cardinal Bergoglio had told him very clearly that the personal ordinariates established within the Catholic Church for groups of former Anglicans was "quite unnecessary" and that the Catholic Church needed Anglicans as Anglicans. A spokesman for the ordinariates said the words were those of Venables, not the Pope. Pope Francis met for the first time the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, when he visited the Vatican, on 14 June 2013. The Roman Pontiff said that they both shared the same concerns for social justice, peace and the promotion of Christian values, in matters like marriage. The second meeting took place at the Vatican, on 16 June 2014, with Pope Francis and Justin Welby recommitting themselves to work against modern slavery and human trafficking. Pope Francis has expressed his support for the Anglican realignment, sending through his personal friend, Gregory Venables, a message to the Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America, a newly formed church outside of the Anglican Communion and not officially recognized by the archbishop of Canterbury, with his "personal greetings and congratulations as he leads his church in the very important job of revival" and asking Venables to embrace him on his behalf. It was presented during Archbishop Beach's enthronement, which took place at the Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, Georgia, on 9 October 2014.
On 29 June 2013, Pope Francis published the encyclical Lumen fidei, that was largely the work of Benedict XVI but awaiting a final draft at his retirement. On 24 November 2013, Francis published his first major letter as pope, the apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium, which he described as the programmatic of his papacy, On 18 June 2015, he published his first own, original encyclical Laudato si' concerning care for the planet. On 8 April 2016, Pope Francis published his second apostolic exhortation, Amoris laetitia, remarking on love within the family. Controversy arose at the end of 2016 when four cardinals formally asked Pope Francis for clarifications, particularly on the issue of giving communion to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.
In the first months of Francis's papacy, the Institute for the Works of Religion, informally known as the Vatican Bank, said that it would become more transparent in its financial dealings There had long been allegations of corruption and money laundering connected with the bank. Francis appointed a commission to advise him about reform of the Bank, and the finance consulting firm Promontory Financial Group was assigned to carry out a comprehensive investigation of all customer contacts of the bank on these facts. Because of this affair the Promoter of Justice at the Vatican Tribunal applied a letter rogatory for the first time in the history of the Republic of Italy at the beginning of August 2013. In January 2014, Francis replaced four of the five cardinal overseers of the Vatican Bank, who had been confirmed in their positions in the final days of Benedict XVI's papacy. Lay experts and clerics were looking into how the bank was run. Ernst von Freyberg was put in charge. Moneyval feels more reform is needed, and Francis may be willing to close the bank if the reforms prove too difficult. There is uncertainty how far reforms can succeed.
At a September 2013 meeting with Catholic gynecologists, Francis condemned abortion saying that: "Every child that isn't born, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord." He advised the gynecologists to invoke the conscience clause to refuse to perform abortions, if so requested.
In September 2013, Francis wrote a letter to Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari, saying non-believers would be forgiven by God if they followed their consciences. Responding to a list of questions published in his newspaper by Scalfari, who is not a Catholic, Francis wrote: "you ask if the God of Christians forgives those who do not believe and who do not seek faith. Given the premise, and this is fundamental, that the mercy of God is limitless for those who turn to him with a sincere and contrite heart, the issue for the unbeliever lies in obeying his or her conscience."
In September 2013, Pope Francis approved the excommunication of Australian priest Greg Reynolds, the first during Francis's papacy. Reynolds was accused of heresy and sacrilegious treatment of the consecrated host. His public preaching contradicting church teaching was also referenced in the letter of excommunication. A letter sent by the archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, to the priests of his diocese cited Reynolds's support for the ordination of women and "his public celebration of the Eucharist when he did not hold faculties to act publicly as a priest". Reynolds said that his support of same-sex marriage was also a factor, though not mentioned.
In October 2013, during the above-mentioned interview with Eugenio Scalfari, Francis said: "I believe in God, not in a Catholic God, there is no Catholic God". In another interview with La Stampa, Pope Francis emphasized his commitment to ecumenism, stating: "For me, ecumenism is a priority. Today, we have the ecumenism of blood. In some countries they kill Christians because they wear a cross or have a Bible, and before killing them they don't ask if they're Anglicans, Lutherans, Catholics or Orthodox. The blood is mixed." During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Pope Francis addressed the attendees of the John 17 Movement gathering opining that "Division is the work of the Father of Lies" and that he "knows that Christians are disciples of Christ: that they are one, that they are brothers! He doesn't care if they are Evangelicals, or Orthodox, Lutherans, Catholics or Apostolic... he doesn't care! They are Christians. And that blood (of martyrdom) unites. Today, dear brothers and sisters, we are living an 'ecumenism of blood'. This must encourage us to do what we are doing today: to pray, to dialogue together, to shorten the distance between us, to strengthen our bonds of brotherhood." During the 2016 Octave of Christian Unity, Pope Francis "asked forgiveness for the way Catholics had treated other Christian believers over the years, and also invited Catholics to pardon those who had persecuted them." Pope Francis has met with the heads of the Assyrian Church of the East: Pope Francis met with Mar Dinkha IV and, later, with his successor Gewargis III, emphasizing the need of interfaith dialogue and the importance of Christianity in the Middle East, the traditional homeland of the Assyrian people.
Francis set up a commission to study the possibility of ordaining women as deacons in the Catholic Church, but after two years it maintained "sharply different positions" and disbanded. The issue is whether the blessing deaconesses received in the early church amounted to ordination and did they perform tasks similar those of male deacons. He acknowledged further need of study. Francis has addressed the subject of the ordination of women a number of times. Francis has ruled out the possibility of female priests, stating that this has been the longtime stance of the Church, and that "John Paul II made the Church's stance definitive. The door is closed." Francis ruled out female cardinals in December 2013.
In December 2013, both Time and The Advocate magazines named the Pontiff as their "Person of the Year" in praise and hopes of reforming the Roman Curia while hoping to change the Catholic Church's doctrine on various controversial issues. In addition, Esquire magazine named him as the "Best-dressed man" for 2013 for his simpler vestments often in tune with a modern simplistic design on sartorial fashion. Rolling Stone magazine followed in January 2014 by making the Pontiff their featured front cover. Fortune magazine also ranked Pope Francis as number one in their list of 50 greatest leaders. On 5 November 2014, he was ranked by Forbes as the fourth most powerful person in the world and was the only non-political figure in the top ranking. In December 2016, Francis yet made Forbes's list of "The World's Most Powerful People", ranking fifth.
In 2014, Pope Francis declined to meet with Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, after the Dalai Lama, who was visiting Rome, had requested a papal audience. Vatican officials assured the press and Buddhist leaders that Pope Francis held the Dalai Lama "in very high regard", but was concerned that the meeting of the two spiritual leaders could jeopardize the Vatican's efforts to improve their relationship with China. In speaking critically of the progress of the negotiations, in October 2017 Cardinal Joseph Zen, former bishop of Hong Kong, said the Pope "does not understand the Communist Party at all" and that the Chinese Communist Party government had failed to make any concessions.
In the first six years of Francis' papacy "the profile of women, especially women religious, at Vatican events rose sharply." Francis asked universities to accept lay people and particularly women alongside seminarians, since “the contribution that women are giving and can give to theology is indispensable" and must be supported. In 2014 he appointed the first woman ever as a voting member of a Vatican congregation, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Then in 2019 he appointed seven religious sisters to full membership in the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
In January 2014, Pope Francis said that he would appoint fewer monsignors and only assign those honored to the lowest of the three surviving ranks of monsignor, chaplain of His Holiness. It would be awarded only to diocesan priests at least 65 years old. During his 15 years as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis never sought the title for any of his priests. It is believed he associates it with clerical careerism and hierarchy, though he did not apply this restriction to clergy working in the Roman Curia or diplomatic corps, where careerism is an even greater concern.
A February 2014 survey by World Values Survey cited in The Washington Post and Time shows how the unity Pope Francis had created could be challenged. Although views about Francis personally were favorable, many Catholics disagreed with at least some of his teachings. The survey found that members of the Catholic Church are deeply divided over abortion, artificial contraception, divorce, the ordination of women, and married priests. In the same month Pope Francis asked parishes to provide answers to an official questionnaire described as a "much broader consultation than just a survey" regarding opinions among the laity. He continued to assert Catholic doctrine, in less dramatic tone than his recent predecessors, who maintained that the Catholic Church is not a democracy of popular opinion.
At the first consistory of his papacy, held on 22 February 2014, Francis created 19 new cardinals. At the time of their elevation to that rank, 16 of these new cardinals were under eighty years of age and thus eligible to vote in a papal conclave. The new appointees included prelates from South America, Africa, and Asia, including appointees in some of the world's poorest countries, such as Chibly Langlois from Haiti and Philippe Nakellentuba Ouedraogo from Burkina Faso. The consistory was a rare occasion in which Francis and his predecessor, Benedict XVI, appeared together in public.
Pope Francis played a key role in the talks toward restoring full diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. The restoration was jointly announced by U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro on 17 December 2014. The headline in the Los Angeles Times on 19 December was "Bridge to Cuba via Vatican," with the further lead "In a rare and crucial role, Pope Francis helped keep U.S. talks with Havana on track and guided final deal." The pope, along with the Government of Canada, was a behind-the-scenes broker of the agreement, taking the role following President Obama's request during his visit to the pope in March 2014. The success of the negotiations was credited to Francis because "as a religious leader with the confidence of both sides, he was able to convince the Obama and Castro administrations that the other side would live up to the deal". En route to the United States for a visit in September 2015, the pope stopped in Cuba. "The plan comes amid a breakthrough for which Francis has received much credit." The Cuba visit "seals that accomplishment, in which he served as a bridge between two erstwhile enemies". According to one expert on religion in Latin America, Mario Paredes, the pope's visit to Cuba was consistent with his aim to promote an understanding of the role of the Cuban Revolution and that of the Catholic Church. When Francis was archbishop of Buenos Aires, he authored a text entitled "Dialogues Between John Paul II and Fidel Castro". John Paul was the first pope to visit Cuba. In May 2015, the pope met with Cuban leader Raúl Castro. After the meeting in Vatican City on 10 May 2015, Castro said that he was considering returning to the Catholic Church. He said in a televised news conference, "I read all the speeches of the pope, his commentaries, and if the pope continues this way, I will go back to praying and go back to the [Catholic] church. I am not joking." Castro said that, when the pope came, "I promise to go to all his Masses and with satisfaction".
The pope approved further equipollent canonizations on 3 April 2014 for the Jesuit José de Anchieta as well as the Ursuline nun Marie of the Incarnation and bishop François de Laval. Francis canonized his two predecessors John XXIII and John Paul II on 27 April 2014 and canonized six additional saints the following 23 November. The pope canonized Joseph Vaz on his visit to Sri Lanka on 14 January 2015 and canonized a further four saints on the following 17 May; he canonized Junípero Serra on 23 September while visiting the United States and then canonized four saints on 18 October including the first married couple to be named as saints. Francis canonized Maria Elisabeth Hesselblad and Stanislaus Papczyński on 5 June 2016 and then canonized Teresa of Calcutta on 4 September; he canonized seven additional saints on 16 October. The pope canonized the two child visionaries Francisco and Jacinta Marto during his visit to Fátima in mid-2017 and canonized 35 additional saints on 15 October. Francis recognized seven saints on 14 October 2018, chief among them, his predecessor Pope Paul VI and Óscar Romero. Francis later confirmed the equipollent canonization for Bartholomew of Braga in mid-2019 while he canonized five new saints, including Cardinal John Henry Newman, on 13 October 2019.
In May 2014, his visit to the State of Israel, where he delivered 13 speeches, was heavily publicized. Protests against his visit resulted in an alleged arson attempt at the Dormition Abbey. The cave under the Church of the Nativity caught fire the night after his visit.
On 24 May 2014, Pope Francis arrived in Jordan, at the start of a tour of the Middle East, "aiming to boost ties with Muslims and Jews as well as easing an age-old rift within Christianity".
Pope Francis urged world leaders to prevent excessive monetary ambitions, which he said had become similar to an idolatry of money, and urged them to provide more welfare aid. Dealing with the Great Recession, the pope criticized unbridled capitalism, considering that it judged human beings purely by their ability to consume goods and made people miserable. He said that social inequality and increasing poverty is caused by neoliberalism, and preferred economic systems with a higher intervention by the state. During a May 2014 meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Francis called on the United Nations to encourage a better income distribution. In 2015, he declared that the poor and downtrodden of the world should have "sacred rights" of labor, lodging, and land, and denounced the austerity imposed by global financial institutions, referring to it as the "new colonialism".
The pope has also continued the practice of having beatifications celebrated in the place of the individual's origin though has presided over beatifications himself on three occasions for Paul Yun Ji-Chung and 123 companions on 16 August 2014, his predecessor Pope Paul VI on 19 October 2014 and two Colombian martyrs on 8 September 2017. The pope has approved beatifications for a range of men and women including the likes of Álvaro del Portillo of Opus Dei (27 September 2014), the martyred archbishop Óscar Romero (23 May 2015) and several large groups of Spanish martyrs.
Pope Francis presided over his first joint public wedding ceremony in a Nuptial Mass for 20 couples from the Archdiocese of Rome on 14 September 2014, just a few weeks before the start of 5–19 October Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family.
In October 2014, Pope Francis met for the first time with a delegation of the Old Catholic Church's Bishops' Conference of the Union of Utrecht, led by the Archbishop of Utrecht and President of the International Old Catholic Bishops Conference Joris Vercammen. The Pope reflected on the shared ecumenical journey of the two churches since their 18th-century schism over the issue of papal primacy. The Pope called for Catholics and Independent Catholics to "persevere in dialogue and to walk, pray and work together in a deeper spirit of conversion" and said there are "many areas in which Catholics and Old Catholics can collaborate in tackling the profound spiritual crisis affecting individuals and societies, especially in Europe."
In November 2014, three top leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attended the Vatican's "Humanum: An International Interreligious Colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman"; the presiding bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Gérald Caussé, the First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church Henry B. Eyring, and L. Tom Perry, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Catholic leaders and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reaffirmed their shared beliefs in the centrality of marriage and families in society. Pope Francis shook hands with Henry B. Eyring, who was one of the 30 speakers chosen for the event. The interaction was the first time a Pope and a leader from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had met face-to-face.
On 14 December 2014, Pope Francis became the first pope to host a General of The Salvation Army, the international leader of the Evangelical Methodist denomination The Salvation Army, in a private audience in the Vatican when he met with André Cox. The pope said that "Catholics and Salvationists, together with other Christians, recognise that those in need have a special place in God's heart", as a result they often "meet at the same peripheries of society".
During his papal visit to the Philippines in 2015, the Pope met with Chief Justice Reynato Puno, a United Methodist layman, along with nine other religious leaders and peace advocates to discuss humanitarian relief.
In 2015, Francis was criticized for supporting Chilean bishop Juan Barros, who was accused of covering up sex crimes committed against minors. In 2018, Francis acknowledged he had made "grave errors" in judgment about Barros, apologized to the victims and launched a Vatican investigation that resulted in the resignation of Barros and two other Chilean bishops.
Pope Francis deplores modern slavery and, together with a diverse group of leaders from other religions, he signed a declaration promising to inspire action worldwide in an effort to eliminate slavery by 2020. Both Pope Francis and the declaration described slavery as a crime against humanity. During his new year mass in 2015 Francis pressed people from all cultures and religions to combat human trafficking and modern slavery according to their responsibilities. Francis said all human beings are brothers and sisters and all have a right to be free.
Pope Francis has regurlarly been accused by Conservatives of having a "soft spot" for leftist populist movements. After Francis's visit to Cuba in 2015, Catholic Yale historian Carlos Eire spoke of a "preferential option for the oppressors" in Latin America. Nevertheless, Pope Francis remained hostile to right-wing populism.
In January 2015 during the papal visit to Sri Lanka, Pope Francis made an unscheduled stop at a Buddhist temple in Colombo where he was shown sacred Buddhist relics that are normally only viewed once a year, and listened to singing and devotional music. Earlier that week, Francis had met with Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian leaders in Sri Lanka and said "religious beliefs must never be allowed to be abused in the cause of violence and war."
Benedict XVI also attended the second consistory on 14 February 2015, at which Francis elevated 20 new cardinals, with 15 under the age of eighty and five over the age of eighty. The pope continued his practice of appointing cardinals from the peripheries, such as Charles Maung Bo of Myanmar and Soane Patita Paini Mafi of Tonga.
On 21 February 2015, Francis signed a decree naming Saint Gregory of Narek as the 36th Doctor of the Church; he formally conferred the title upon the saint at a ceremony held in Saint Peter's Basilica on 12 April 2015 with delegations from the Armenian Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church present.
In March 2015, Pope Francis announced that the universal church would celebrate a Jubilee Year from 8 December 2015 to 20 November 2016, dedicated to the theme of God's mercy. The Vatican announced the pope would perform several acts to demonstrate the theme of God's mercy. Pope Francis sees morality as a vehicle of God's mercy and has called mercy "the keystone of the life of faith".
As he prepared for the encyclical, Francis sponsored a Pontifical Academy of Sciences summit meeting in April 2015 that focused on the relationships connecting poverty, economic development, and climate change. The meeting included presentations and discussions by scientists, religious leaders, and economists. The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, who is urging world leaders to approve a climate-change accord in Paris at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in December, delivered the keynote address.
With his April 2015 papal bull of indiction, Misericordiae Vultus (Latin: "The Face of Mercy"), Francis inaugurated a Special Jubilee Year of Mercy, to run from 8 December 2015, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to the last Sunday before Advent and the Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King of the Universe on 20 November 2016.
In May 2015, Pope Francis welcomed Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to the Vatican. Several media outlets reported that Francis praised Abbas as "an angel of peace", though his actual words were the following: "The angel of peace destroys the evil spirit of war. I thought about you: may you be an angel of peace." The Vatican signed a treaty recognizing the state of Palestine. The Vatican issued statements concerning the hope that the peace talks could resume between Israel and Palestine. Abbas' visit was on the occasion of the canonization of two Palestinian nuns.
On 18 June 2015, Pope Francis issued a papal encyclical called Laudato si' on climate change, care for the environment, and sustainable development. The encyclical, although dated 24 May 2015, was officially made public on 18 June 2015. The encyclical sets apart the basic human needs and appetites. Francis considers that the former are small and non-negotiable, and that the latter are potentially unlimited. Although he asks for the use of renewable energy instead of conventional fuels, he thinks that it would not be enough unless society turns down the unlimited appetites of consumerism. This project was opposed by Vatican conservatives, Catholic conservatives, and the US evangelical movement. In the encyclical, Francis states "The Earth, our home, is beginning to look like an immense pile of filth."
In June 2015, Pope Francis met with Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church. The two primates discussed their desire to work toward full communion between their two churches, stating that Antioch and Rome are the only two Apostolic Sees where St. Peter the Apostle had preached. They also expressed an eagerness to celebrate Easter on a common date, as Catholics and Oriental Orthodox have separate days for Easter.
On 24 June 2015, dialogue between Buddhist and Catholic religious and social leaders began in the Vatican, hosted by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Pope Francis attended the meeting, where he spoke in favor of Buddhists and Catholics working together to address social problems. Pope Francis received a Buddhist blessing while at the meeting.
On 6 June 2015, Pope Francis visited Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He urged peace during his time in the religiously diverse city, known as the "Jerusalem of Europe".
On 25 September 2015, Pope Francis addressed the United Nations in New York City.
Wake Up! was released on 27 November 2015 by the label Believe Digital and contains speeches by Pope Francis and accompanying music, including rock music.
Also in 2016, Pope Francis met with Gottfried Locher, the President of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches to speak about "ecumenism and Protestantism in Europe." The Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches is made up of Calvinist, Zwinglian, and Methodist churches.
During his papal visit to Armenia in 2016, Pope Francis prayed inside Etchmiadzin Cathedral, the mother church of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the oldest state-built church in the world, alongside the Catholicos of All Armenians, Karekin II. During the prayer service, the Pope asked for and received a blessing from Catholicos Karekin II. The Pope spoke about the Christian faith of the Armenian people and how Armenia became the first nation to accept Christianity as its official religion, even while persecutions under Emperor Diocletian were prevalent in the Roman Empire. The Pope also gave thanks for the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church and the steps they have taken "for the sake of coming to share fully in the Eucharistic banquet."
Francis presided over his fifth consistory for the elevation of 14 new cardinals on 28 June 2018. The first eleven were under the age of eighty, and therefore, were eligible to vote in a future papal conclave while the last three were over the age of eighty, and thus, ineligible to vote in a papal conclave. The pope continued the practice of naming the Vicar of Rome and a curial prefect as cardinals, while naming his substitute for the Secretariat of State in anticipation of his transferral to a curial department. The pope also continued his practice of bestowing the red hat on those from peripheries such as Madagascar, Pakistan, and Iraq, and like in 2016, created a priest as a cardinal. The consistory was also noteworthy for the fact that Francis named the papal almoner Konrad Krajewski as a cardinal, marking the consistory the first occasion where the almoner was made a cardinal. Francis himself later said that he wanted the office of almoner to receive the red hat going forward as it was an important arm of the Vatican.
In 2016, Pope Francis met with Ahmed el-Tayeb at the Vatican, the first meeting since 2000 between the Grand Imam of al-Azhar and the leader of the world's Catholics.
In 2016, Pope Francis met with members of the World Methodist Council, the Methodist Council of Europe, and the Methodist Church in Britain, who were in Rome for the opening of the Methodist Ecumenical Office there. The Pope called for Catholics and Methodists to unite in their Christian beliefs and in service to others. Pope Francis referred to Catholics and Methodists as "truly brothers and sisters" and, reflecting on the words of the Anglican priest and founder of Methodism John Wesley in his Letter to a Roman Catholic, quoted "if we cannot as yet think alike in all things, at least we may love alike."
On 12 February 2016, Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, met in Havana, Cuba, issuing the Joint Declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, calling for restored Christian unity between the two churches. This was reported as the first such high-level meeting between the two churches since the Great Schism of 1054.
On 19 March 2016, Pope Francis became the first Pope to create an Instagram account. He broke records after having gained over one million followers in under twelve hours of the account being up.
On 16 April 2016, he visited, together with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Ieronimos II of Athens, the Moria Refugee Camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, to call the attention of the world to the refugee issue. There the three Christian leaders signed a joint declaration.
On 2 October 2016, Pope Francis spoke in favor of pastoral care for and including transgender Catholics in the church, stating priests should "accompany them spiritually" and that they should never be turned away, even if they have undergone gender transition and sex-reassignment operations. He spoke out against "Gender Theory", that is the concept that gender identity is not definite and can change, being taught in schools. Francis once held an audience with a Spanish transgender man, who had transitioned from female to male, and his wife.
During the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Francis "grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion", a provision which he extended indefinitely in his Apostolic Letter Misericordia et Misera issued on 20 November 2016. Francis appealed to all priests to grant forgiveness to women who had undergone an abortion, as well as anyone who had been involved in completing the procedure. While Francis reiterated that the sin of abortion (an act punishable with automatic excommunication) is "a grave sin", he affirmed that "there is no sin that God's mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart."
Francis presided over the third consistory of his papacy on 19 November 2016, elevating 17 new cardinals. Of that total number at the time of their elevation, 13 were under the age of eighty and four were over the age of eighty. Francis continued his previous practice of elevating cardinals from the peripheries with an emphasis again on Asia and Africa, such as Patrick D'Rozario from Bangladesh and Dieudonné Nzapalainga from the Central African Republic, while also naming the first three American cardinals of his papacy and only one Curial appointment.
In the oratorio Laudato si' by Peter Reulein (music) written on a libretto by Helmut Schlegel OFM, the figure of Pope Francis appears next to Mary, Francis of Assisi and Clare of Assisi. In the oratorio, Pope Franziskus suggests a bridge from the crucifixion scene on Golgotha to the suffering of the present. He emphasizes the female talent and the importance of the charism of women for church and society. The texts of the encyclical Laudato si' and Evangelii gaudium were used. The motto of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy also plays a central role. The oratorio was premiered on 6 November 2016 in the Limburg Cathedral.
Pope Francis established the World Day of the Poor in his Apostolic Letter, Misericordia et Misera, issued on 20 November 2016 to celebrate the end of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, maintained that Amoris Laetitia should only be interpreted in line with previous doctrine. Therefore, according to Cardinal Müller, divorced and civilly remarried can have access to the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist only if they take on the duty of living in complete continence. Pope Francis subsequently announced that dicastery prefects would be appointed for a single five-year term, and replaced Müller at the end of his term in 2017 with Luis Ladaria Ferrer. Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, one of the authors of the dubia, maintains that after Amoris laetitia "only a blind man could deny there's great confusion, uncertainty and insecurity in the Church."
In 2017, Dutch politician Lilianne Ploumen was appointed as Dame Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great. Ploumen, who has been involved in promoting legislation supporting women's reproductive rights, stated that she believed the honor was given to her in the context of the Dutch state visit to the Vatican in June 2017 in her capacity as Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. Paloma Garcia-Ovejero, deputy director of the Holy See Press Office, stated that "the honorific of the St. Gregory the Great Pontifical Order that Liliane Ploumen, then Minister for Development received in June 2017, during the visit of the Dutch royal family to the Holy Father, is part of the diplomatic praxis of the exchange of decorations among delegations during official visits between heads of state and government to the Vatican.. [it] cannot be by any way considered an endorsement to the pro-abortion and birth control politics advocated by Mrs. Ploumen."
In response to criticism from Venezuela's bishops, President Nicolás Maduro said in 2017 that he had the support of Pope Francis. Pope Francis met with the country's bishops in June 2017, and the Venezuelan bishops' conference president stated, "There is no distance between the episcopal conference and the Holy See." In January 2019, 20 former presidents in Latin America wrote a letter to Pope Francis criticizing his Christmas address regarding the ongoing Venezuelan crisis for being too simplistic and for not acknowledging what they believed to be the causes of the suffering of the victims of the crisis. Pope Francis has sought peace in the crisis without picking a side.
In January 2017, Pope Francis demanded the resignation of Matthew Festing, the 79th Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. The Pope's demand came as a response to Festing and Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke firing Baron Albrecht von Boeselager from his position in the Order of Malta. The Order, in May 2017, appointed a new leader in the person of Fra' Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto.
In February 2017, the Pope met with Coptic bishops at the Vatican to discuss the violence against and persecution of Christians in the Middle East.
On 28 April 2017, Pope Francis participated in an ecumenical prayer service in Cairo, Egypt, with Pope Theodore II, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II. This historic event appears to be the first time that the three Christian popes and the ecumenical patriarch have met together.
On 9 April 2017 following the 2017 Palm Sunday church bombings at the Cathedral of St. Mark in Alexandria and the Church of St. George in Tanta, killing at least 40 people and injuring dozens more, Pope Francis said "We pray for the victims of the attack carried out today, this morning, in Cairo, in a Coptic church." He expressed his "deep condolences" for Coptic Orthodox Christians and for Egypt and called Pope Tawadros II, who had escaped the attack, his "brother".
On 24 May 2017, Pope Francis met with U.S. President Donald Trump in Vatican City, where they discussed the contributions of Catholics to the United States and to the world. They discussed issues of mutual concern, including how religious communities can combat human suffering in crisis regions, such as Syria, Libya, and ISIS-controlled territory. They also discussed terrorism and the radicalization of young people. The Vatican's secretary of state, Pietro Parolin, raised the issue of climate change and encouraged Trump to remain in the Paris Agreement. At the 2017 World Food Day ceremony, Pope Francis reiterated that "we see the consequences [of climate change] every day" and that we "know how the problems are to be faced" "[t]hanks to scientific knowledge." He said that "the international community has drawn up the necessary legal instruments, such as the Paris Agreement, from which however some are withdrawing. There is a re-emergence of the nonchalance towards the delicate balances of ecosystems, the presumption of being able to manipulate and control the planet’s limited resources, and greed for profit."
The pope presided over a fourth consistory for the elevation of five new cardinals on the afternoon of 28 June 2017. Each of the five were under the age of eighty, and were thus eligible to vote in a papal conclave. This consistory was noteworthy for the fact that, with the pope continuing the trend of elevating cardinals from a diverse range of areas, no cardinals elevated are of the Roman Curia, and one was a mere auxiliary bishop.
In July 2017 a group of conservative clergy, academics and laymen signed a document labeled as a "Filial Correction" of Pope Francis. The 25-page document, which was made public in September after it received no reply, criticized the Pope for promoting what it described as seven heretical propositions through various words, actions and omissions during his pontificate. Capuchin Father Thomas Weinandy, ex-doctrine chief of US Bishops, wrote a letter to Pope Francis on 31 July 2017, which he subsequently made public, in which he charged that Pope Francis is fostering "chronic confusion", "demeaning" the importance of doctrine, appointing bishops who "scandalize" believers with dubious "teaching and pastoral practice", giving prelates who object the impression they will be "marginalized or worse" if they speak out, and causing faithful Catholics to "lose confidence in their supreme shepherd".
On 16 October 2017 World Food Day ceremony, held at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which is headquartered in Rome, Pope Francis called for collaboration among world leaders to assure food security which requires tackling the "root of problem" of food insecurity. Pope Francis cited "studies conducted by the United Nations and many other civil society organisations" that said the "two main obstacles to overcome" are "conflicts and climate change."
Francis also confirmed his predecessor John Paul I to be Venerable on 8 November 2017.
On 8 December 2017, Pope Francis signed a new apostolic constitution on ecclesiastical universities and faculties Veritatis gaudium, published 29 January 2018.
In 2018, Argentine Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, declared that "those who are best implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese." Matthew Schmitz replied that this statement was "not mere naivete" but also exemplified "the way in which defenses of the “common good” sometimes slip into apologias for authoritarianism". Cardinal Joseph Zen described the Vatican-China agreement, intended to normalize the situation of China's Catholics, as a steps towards the "annihilation" of the Catholic Church in China.
A further Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et exsultate (Rejoice and be glad), was published on 19 March 2018, dealing with "the call to holiness in today's world" and countering contemporary versions of the gnostic and Pelagian heresies from "earlier Christian times".
In March 2018, Francis was quoted in la Repubblica as saying (in Italian) "Those who repent obtain God’s forgiveness and take their place among the ranks of those who contemplate him, but those who do not repent and cannot be forgiven disappear. A hell doesn’t exist, the disappearance of sinning souls exists". The Vatican quickly called this a reconstruction by Eugenio Scalfari rather than a faithful transcription of Francis's words. Scalfari later said he believed the Pope denied the existence of hell, but admitted he did not take notes during their chat, and may have misremembered Francis's words, having made mistakes about him before.
In April 2018 Pope Francis met with Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivor of sexual abuse by Chilean priest Fernando Karadima. Cruz discussed with Francis in detail how his sexual orientation was used by Latin American media and news outlets to discredit his report of abuse and label him as a pervert and liar. In a private conversation between the two Francis reportedly said to Cruz, who identifies as homosexual, in regards to his sexuality, "You know Juan Carlos, that does not matter. God made you like this. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say."
Pope Francis: A Man of His Word is a documentary film with Swiss-Italian-French-German co-production, co-written and directed by Wim Wenders. It premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and was released in the United States on 18 May 2018. It includes extensive sections of interviews as well as stock footage from archives.
Former papal nuncio Carlo Maria Viganò released an 11-page letter in August 2018 in which he claimed that Pope Benedict XVI had been aware of sexual misconduct allegations against former D.C. archbishop Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and had imposed restrictions on his activities which were then lifted by Francis. Viganò called on Francis to resign as an example for other bishops. Francis acknowledged that he had read Viganò's letter but said that he did not plan to comment on it publicly. It was quickly noted that late in Benedict's papacy, during the time period that Viganò alleged McCarrick was subject to restrictions on his ministry, McCarrick travelled and made multiple public appearances. although it was once noted that he seemed to be avoiding the media. However, a 2014 news report described McCarrick's activities as increasing heavily after Francis became pope. As to Vigano's letter, Jason Horowitz, home bureau chief of the NY Times, writes that: "Its unsubstantiated allegations and personal attacks amounted to an extraordinary public declaration of war against Francis’ papacy" designed by conservatives to embarrass him at the sensitive time as he began his visitation to Ireland, After being asked to come forward by Viganò, Cardinal Marc Ouellet said that Benedict had imposed informal sanctions on McCarrick but denied that Francis had lifted them.
In August 2018, Pope Francis apologized for abuses by clergy in the United States and Ireland.
In August 2018, an appeal was made to the cardinals of the Catholic Church by 45 persons, including professors and Catholic clergy, calling on the cardinals to advise Pope Francis to retract a recent revision made to the Catechism regarding the admissibility of the death penalty. The appeal expressed concern that the change in the catechism contradicts prior Catholic teaching on the death penalty and may cast doubt on the reliability of the Magisterium. Other theologians who maintain that there can be no such development in Church doctrine, describe Francis' change as rather reprioritizing doctrines.
On 20 August 2018, Pope Francis apologized in a 2,000 word letter after the release of a grand jury report confirming that over 1,000 children were sexually abused by "predator priests" in Pennsylvania for decades, often covered up by the Church.
The Pope's reported comments to Cruz were then echoed and built on in public comments during a press conference he gave on 26 August 2018, during his flight back to Rome at the end of the papal visit to Ireland where the World Meeting of Families had that day concluded. Four days previously, during the course of the World Meeting of Families, Equal Future 2018 had been launched, a humanitarian campaign aiming to raise awareness around the world of the damage done to children and young people when they are given the sense that to be LGBT is a misfortune or a disappointment. Francis was asked during the press conference what he would say to the father of a son who says he is homosexual. In his reply, the Pope said "Don’t condemn. Dialogue, understand, make space for your son or daughter. Make space so they can express themselves," "You are my son, you are my daughter, just as you are!" and "that son and that daughter have the right to a family and of not being chased out of the family."
While in Ireland on 26 August 2018, the Pope also apologized for "abuses of power and conscience" committed by clergy in that country.
Following the new sexual abuse allegations, Francis' popularity dropped significantly in the United States. In September 2018, only 48% of Americans had a favorable view of Francis. According to a report published in Der Spiegel in September 2018, "Pope Francis promised when he took office a renewed, cosmopolitan Catholicism. Five-and-a-half years and many abuse cases later, the Universal Church is divided as never before."
On 3 December 2018 a book, The Strength of a Vocation, consisting of a transcription of a four-hour interview between Pope Francis and Spanish Missionary Fernando Prado was published. In it, the Pope is quoted as saying that "homosexuality is a very serious issue", "is fashionable and that... also influences the life of the church" and is "something [he is] concerned about". He further goes on to say "In consecrated and priestly life, there’s no room for that kind of affection. Therefore, the church recommends that people with that kind of ingrained tendency should not be accepted into the ministry or consecrated life. The ministry or the consecrated life is not his place."
As cardinal he thought Christian morality is not a titanic effort of the will, but a response to the mercy of God. It is not a matter of never falling down but of always getting up again. In this sense, he says Christian morality is a revolution. The Gospel reading for the Sunday he was scheduled to give his first public address as pope was on Jesus's forgiveness of the adulterous woman. This allowed him to discuss the principle that God never wearies of forgiving humans and to stress the importance of never tiring in asking for forgiveness. Because of this emphasis, many have returned to God and to confession, a result which has been called the "Pope Francis effect". While vocations to the Jesuits are dropping in the North, they are rising in Latin America, Africa, and India. Father General Arturo Sosa estimates that in 2034 there will be about 10,000 Jesuits and they have an average age much younger than the 15,000 Jesuits in 2019.
Francis has overseen synods on the family (2014), on youth (2018), and on the Church in the Amazon region (2019). In 2019 Francis' apostolic constitution Episcopalis communio allowed that the final document of a synod may become magisterial teaching simply with papal approval. The constitution also allowed for laity to contribute input directly to the synod's secretary general. Some analysts see the creation of a truly synodal church as likely to become the greatest contribution of Francis' papacy.
In February 2019, Pope Francis visited Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on the invitation of Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Pope Francis became the first pope to hold a papal mass on the Arabian Peninsula, with more than 120,000 attendees in the Zayed Sports City Stadium.
On 3 February 2019, Francis visited the Arabian Peninsula on a trip to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. During the visit he met Grand Imam of al-Azhar Ahmed el-Tayeb and held papal mass to more than 120,000 attendees in the Zayed Sports City Stadium. Pope Francis also signed, alongside the Grand Imam, the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, a document which pledge world peace and living together between people of different faith.
Recently nuns have accused clerics of sexual abuse in Italy, the Vatican, France, India, Latin America and Africa. Lucette Scaraffia, a feminist intellectual and the editor in chief of Women Church World, a Vatican magazine, noted that there were nuns having abortions or giving birth to children of clerics. In February 2019, Pope Francis acknowledged publicly for the first time that the church has suffered an issue of priests and bishops sexually abusing nuns. Francis had convened a Vatican sexual abuse summit of all the presidents of the world's conferences of Catholic bishops on clergy sexual abuse in Rome 21–24 February 2019. As a follow-up to that summit, on 9 May 2019 Francis promulgated the motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi which specified responsibilities, including reporting directly to the Holy See on bishops and on one's superior, while simultaneously involving another bishop in the archdiocese of the accused bishop.
On 8 March 2019, Francis held a meeting with leaders of world religious traditions to increase awareness of the state of the climate. In June 2019, Pope Francis declared a global "climate emergency", warning of the dangers of global heating and that a failure to act urgently to reduce greenhouse gases would be "a brutal act of injustice toward the poor and future generations". Francis noted that "future generations stand to inherit a greatly spoiled world. Our children and grandchildren should not have to pay the cost of our generation's irresponsibility." The Pope called for a "radical energy transition" away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy sources, criticising "the continued search for new fossil fuel reserves" and insisting that "fossil fuels should remain underground". Pope Francis' efforts at environmentalism have received the praise of high-level climatologists and the support of the CEOs of major corporations. At a meeting with the head of the International Association for Hydrogen Energy, Francis mentioned that he drew on his background in chemistry and read up on hydrogen energy before writing Laudato si'.
On 9 March 2019, Church President Russell M. Nelson and Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles M. Russell Ballard met with Pope Francis in a 33-minute interview at the Vatican. The event marked the first time in history that a pope and a president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints met face-to-face. In talking about the meeting, President Nelson said, "We had a most cordial, unforgettable experience. His Holiness, he was most gracious and warm and welcoming." President Nelson also stated, "We talked about our mutual concern for the people who suffer throughout the world and want to relieve human suffering. We talked about the importance of religious liberty, the importance of the family, our mutual concern for the youth [and] for the secularization of the world and the need for people to come to God and worship Him, pray to Him and have the stability that faith in Jesus Christ will bring in their lives." In addressing the differences between the churches, President Nelson remarked, "The differences in doctrine are real... They are important. But they are not nearly as important as things we have in common—our concern for human suffering, our desire for and the importance of religious liberty for all of society, and the importance of building bridges of friendship instead of building walls of segregation." The meeting took place the day before the Rome Italy Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was dedicated.
On 1 September 2019, following his weekly Sunday Angelus address, Francis unexpectedly announced the appointment of 13 new cardinals. Of these, 10 appointees were under the age of 80 and would therefore become cardinal electors. The new cardinals were formally installed at the consistory celebrated on 5 October 2019. Most of the new cardinals come from the peripheries of the church and developing countries. Two new appointees were from Muslim majority countries (Morocco and Indonesia), while two others were known for their work on refugee and migration issues. This action took the number of cardinal electors appointed by Francis to the College of Cardinals to about 70 out of nearly 130. The pope also named three cardinals over the age of eighty, therefore, those cardinals do not have the right to vote in a future papal conclave.
As a cardinal, Bergoglio's views regarding the celibacy of priests were recorded in the book On Heaven and Earth, a record of conversations conducted with Abraham Skorka, a Buenos Aires rabbi and rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary. He says that celibacy is a matter of discipline rather than faith, and that tradition and experience would advise to keep it. He noted that the Byzantine, Ukrainian, Russian, and Greek Catholic Churches allow married men to be ordained priests, but not bishops. He said that many of those in Western Catholicism who are pushing for more discussion about the issue do so from a position of pragmatism, based on a loss of manpower. He states that "If, hypothetically, Western Catholicism were to review the issue of celibacy, I think it would do so for cultural reasons (as in the East), not so much as a universal option." He emphasized that, in the meantime, the rule must be strictly adhered to, and any priest who cannot obey it should leave the ministry. The National Catholic Reporter's Vatican analyst, Thomas J. Reese, also a Jesuit, praised Bergoglio's use of conditional language. He said that phrases like "for the moment" and "for now" are "not the kind of qualifications one normally hears when bishops and cardinals discuss celibacy." Before the Amazonian Synod held at the Vatican on 6–27 October 2019, Pope Francis' accustomed manner of wide consultation brought in strong calls for ordaining married men to serve as priests in the Amazon region, which is very short of clergy. Two German cardinals called the agenda "heretical", while Francis said that this topic was "absolutely not" the main theme of the Synod.
During the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic, Francis canceled his regular general audiences at St. Peter's Square to prevent crowds from gathering and spreading the virus, which seriously affected Italy. He encouraged priests to visit patients and health workers; urged the faithful not to forget the poor during the time of crisis; offered prayers for victims of the virus in China; and invoked the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title Salus Populi Romani, as the Diocese of Rome observed a period of prayer and fasting in recognition of the victims. The pontiff reacted with displeasure on 13 March 2020, at the news that the Vicar General had closed all churches in the Diocese of Rome. Despite Italy being under a quarantine lockdown, Francis pleaded "not to leave the ... people alone" and worked to partially reverse the closures.