By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer
Last year, the Catholic Church chose the 77-year-old Archbishop of Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, to become the new Pope. Staying true to his humble, down-to-earth personality, Bergoglio took on the name Pope Francis, after one of the most beloved saints, Saint Francis of Assisi. Just like his namesake, Pope Francis is dedicated to helping the poor, and creating a Church that actually gets involved in its communities instead of living it up like princes.
Rather than accepting all the fancy perks that come with being the head of the incredibly wealthy Church, Pope Francis has stuck to basics, turning down the luxury clothes and cars available to him. He’s also been very critical of highly ranked officials like cardinals and archbishops who enjoy millionaire lifestyles in big mansions with servants, and spend more time taking expensive trips than tending to their local flock.
Thanks to his efforts, like replacing corrupt officials who abused their power and wealth, he has won widespread admiration. Pope Francis is making history in other ways, too, since he’s the first non-European to lead the Church since 741 A.D. and has positively transformed the Catholic Church’s public image in a year that’s been described as “the Francis revolution”. He named 19 new cardinals to the College of Cardinals – a group of men second only to the Pope who advise him, manage important affairs, and elect new Popes – and chose candidates from underrepresented poor countries in the world. Also, since the Church’s mega rich banking system was being mismanaged by untrustworthy members, Pope Francis got rid of them and kept only one of the cardinals on board before appointing a new team.
If there’s one main message the Pope is pushing, it’s the importance of not excluding outsiders from the Church, reaching out to help the poor, providing comfort to the sick, and actively creating actual change on the ground.
Images courtesy of the Vatican.