Filtered By: Topstories

Francis, the revolutionary pope

It’s less than a week before Pope Francis steps foot in the Philippines to visit Yolanda survivors and other members of the Filipino faithful. Before his historic visit, GMA News Online looks back at why the Pontiff—the first Jesuit and the first non-European and Latin American pope in 1,300 years—is shaping up to be a revolutionary leader of the Catholic Church. 
Before he became Pope Francis, the pontiff was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, the son of a rail worker father and a housewife mother. He led a simple life as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires before he was elected to the papacy in March 2013. 
Moments after his election, Pope Francis made history by taking on the name Francis, after Saint Francis of Assisi, who was known to have shunned wealth to live in poverty.
Throughout his almost two-year leadership, Pope Francis has proven to be a pope to watch, one that has breathed life back into a tired church with his views on controversial issues, including the treatment of gays and lesbians, evolution, divorce and others.
LGBTs should be respected
In a remarkable change from his predecessor Benedict, who said homosexuality was an intrinsic disorder, Francis said that when homosexuals told him they were always condemned by the Church and felt "socially wounded," he told them "the Church does not want to do this."
Pope Francis defended gays from discrimination by saying he was in no position to judge members of the Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender community.
"If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?" the pope said.
"The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says they should not be marginalized because of this (orientation) but that they must be integrated into society," he said in 2013.
However, the Pope also referred to the Catholic Church's universal Catechism, which says that while homosexual orientation is not sinful, homosexual acts are.
"The problem is not having this orientation. We must be brothers. The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worse problem," he said.
Evolution not in contradiction with God
Another issue where Pope Francis diverted from the longtime stance of the Catholic Church is on the topic of evolution.

In October of last year, Pope Francis embraced evolution and said the Big Bang Theory is not at odds with God’s teachings.
Addressing a meeting of the Pontificial Academy of Sciences, an independent body housed in the Vatican and financed largely by the Holy See, Francis said scientific explanations for the world did not exclude the role of God in creation.
"The beginning of the world is not the work of chaos that owes its origin to something else, but it derives directly from a supreme principle that creates out of love," he said.
"The 'Big Bang', that today is considered to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the creative intervention of God, on the contrary it requires it," he said.
"Evolution in nature is not in contrast with the notion of [divine] creation because evolution requires the creation of the beings that evolve," the pope added.
Abortion still horrific
Yet while he has embraced views that some may call revolutionary for the 2,000-year-old Catholic Church, there are some issues on which Pope Francis stays with the script. A notable issue which the Church has long condemned is the practice of abortion. 
Last year, Pope Francis, pushed by critics, called the act “horrific.”
"It is horrific even to think that there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day," he said in a section of the speech about the rights of children around the world.
Abortion, he said, was part of a "throwaway culture" that had enveloped many parts of the world.
"Unfortunately, what is thrown away is not only food and dispensable objects, but often human beings themselves, who are discarded as unnecessary," he said.
Moral renewal
Pope Francis has also proved that he was not immune to criticizing those in his backyard. In his New Year’s message, Pope Francis cited the need for moral upheaval in Rome and in the Vatican itself.
The Curia needs to change, to improve ... a Curia that does not criticize itself, that does not bring itself up to date, that does not try to improve, is a sick body," the Pope said.
Francis even went as far as to say that some in the Curia acted as if they were "immortal, immune or even indispensable," an apparent reference to retired cardinals who remain in the Vatican and continue to exert influence.
With all of his pronouncements that have brought the Catholic Church into the light of the 21st Century, it’s no wonder the world’s Catholics have embraced Francis as the “people’s pope.” —KG, GMA News