Timeline - The first year of the papacy of Francis

  • World
  • Tuesday, 11 Mar 2014

Vatican City (Reuters) - Thursday, March 13 marks the first anniversary of the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as Pope Francis, the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years.

Below is a timeline of the major events since then and the key decisions he has made.

March 14: On the morning after his election, the pope makes a surprise visit to the Rome hotel for clerics where he was staying before his election and pays the bill.

March 15: Pope tells his fellow Argentines not to travel to Rome for his inaugural, urging them to give the money to the poor instead. One headline: 'Don't fly for me Argentina'.

March 16: In an address to journalists, the pope gives his first clear indication he wants a more austere Church, saying "Oh, how I would like a poor Church, and for the poor."

March 19: In his inaugural Mass, Francis sets the tone for a humbler papacy; he issues a strong appeal for the protection of the environment and the defence of the weakest.

March 23 - A reigning pope and a former pope face each other for the first time in at least 600 years when Francis travels south of Rome to meet his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict


March 26: Pope decides not to move into the spacious and regal papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace, opting to stay in a simple guest house with other tenants.

March 28: Pope shocks traditionalists when, during a visit to a juvenile prison, he includes women and Muslims in a traditional Holy Thursday foot washing ceremony usually reserved for Catholic men.

April 5: Pope says he wants the Catholic Church to "act decisively" to root out sexual abuse of children by priests and ensure the perpetrators are punished.

April 13: In his first major decision, Francis sets up an unprecedented advisory board of cardinals from around the world to help him govern the Catholic Church and reform its troubled central administration.

May 2: Ex pope Benedict XVI moves back to the Vatican, opening a new era in Church history where an "emeritus pope" and a ruling pontiff live as neighbours for the first time.

May 16: Pope issues a strong call for world financial reform, condemning a heartless "dictatorship of the economy".

June 26: Pope sets up a special commission of inquiry to reform the Vatican bank, in a bold move to get to grips with an institution that has embarrassed the Church for decades.

June 28: Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, a senior cleric with close ties to the Vatican bank, is arrested for plotting to help rich friends smuggle tens of millions of euros in cash into Italy from Switzerland.

July 2: The top two managers of the Vatican bank resign following Scarano's arrest.

July 8: Pope makes his fist trip outside Rome, to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa to commemorate thousands of migrants who have died crossing the sea from North Africa.

July 19: Pope sets up commission of one cleric and seven lay experts to advise him on economic affairs and how to improve transparency and enforce accounting principles in the Vatican.

July 23: Pope goes to Brazil for his first international trip. Huge crowds turn out, including more than 3 million people on Copacabana Beach on the last day.

July 29: Pope holds broad, free-ranging conversation with journalists on return flight from Brazil, saying his now-famous phrase: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?"

Sept 5: Pope sends letter to G20 meeting in St. Petersburg, telling Russian President Vladimir Putin that any military solution in Syria would be futile.

Sept 19: Pope, in first major interview, tells Catholic publication that the Church must shake off an obsession with teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality and become more merciful even if it can't change teachings.

Sept 22: In an impromptu speech in Cagliari, Sardinia, Francis attacks the global economic system, saying it could no longer be based on a "god called money".

Oct 4: In visit to Assisi, birthplace of St Francis, the pope says the Church must strip itself of all "vanity, arrogance and pride" and humbly serve the poorest.

Oct 23: Pope banishes a German prelate known as the "bishop of bling" from his diocese for spending 31 million euros ($43 million) of Church funds on his residence.

Dec 12: In peace message, the pope says huge salaries and bonuses are symptoms of an economy based on greed, inequality.

Dec 25: In his first Christmas as pope, Francis calls on atheists to unite with believers of all religions for peace.

Feb 5: A U.N. committee accuses the Vatican of systematically turning a blind eye to decades of sexual abuse.

Feb 22: Francis elevates 19 prelates to high rank of cardinal at a ceremony where former Pope Benedict makes a surprise appearance.

Feb 24: Pope sets up new Vatican department, the Secretariat for the Economy, inviting outside experts into a world often seen as murky and secretive.

March 9: The pope, his top aides in train, begins a week-long Lenten spiritual retreat south of Rome, the first time in living memory it is held outside the Vatican.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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