Pope Francis - His First Year
Pope Francis has been head of the Roman Catholic Church for one year. He became the first non-European pope on March 13, 2013, after Benedict XVI had retired from office. So how has the Roman Catholic Church changed in the first year of Francis' papacy? It was clear from the beginning that Francis would be different from other popes before him. He does not wear the clothes that a pontiff usually wears. Instead he is dressed in the same simple robes that he wore when he was Argentina's bishop of the poor.
Many see Francis as an open-minded person, who always gets into crowds, constantly smiles and likes to talk to people. He always states that he is a down-to-earth normal person, just like you and me. Never before has a pope become so popular so quickly.
While the daily routines of the new pope may have changed, not much has occurred inside the church itself. Francis has not yet opposed the Vatican curia, the most powerful body of the Roman Catholic Church. But Francis has been surprisingly open and liberal on some issues. He once said that he did not want to judge gay people and that the church was also open to atheists.
Francis still has many hardships to overcome. Among the hottest issues are celibacy and money laundering charges against the Vatican bank. Homosexuality and abortion, as well as contraception, are also high on the priority list.
In any case, Catholics around the world admire Francis. In some countries going to church has become popular again. In France, for example, church officials say that there has been a 3% increase in the number of church-goers over the past year. Many church experts think he will even win the Nobel Prize for Peace in the near future.
Pope Francis among worshippers at St. Peter's Square
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- abortion = the killing of an unborn baby
- atheist = a person who does not believe in God
- celibacy = not married and not having sex because of your religion
- charge = accusation; when police say you have committed a crime
- constantly = always
- contraception = preventing a woman from becoming pregnant using different kinds of methods; birth control
- curia = the central government of the Roman Catholic Church
- down-to-earth =practical, direct, normal
- gay = homosexual
- hardship = difficulty, problem
- in any case = anyway
- increase = to go up
- instead = in something's place
- issue = topic
- judge = to form an opinion about someone or something
- money laundering = when you put money that you received from committing a crime into bank accounts or legal businesses so that it is difficult for people to discover where the money came from
- occur = happen
- official = a person who has a high position in an organization
- open-minded = willing to think about and accept other people's ideas
- oppose = to be against; fight against
- overcome = here: solve
- papacy = the job of being a pope
- pontifex = = pope, highest official in the Roman Catholic church
- retire = step back; here: not be a pope any more
- robe = long piece of clothing usually worn by priests and other church officials