Pope Francis Marks 10 Years as Head of Worldwide Church

It was 10 years ago today, on March 13, 2013, that Pope Francis first stepped onto the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica and greeted the world.

The former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, had just been elected pope by a conclave of 115 cardinals meeting in the Sistine Chapel.

Pope Francis is the first Jesuit to become pope, and the first pope to come from the Americas. He chose the name Francis to honor St. Francis of Assisi, who was known for his poverty and commitment to peace.

It was clear from the beginning that Pope Francis’ leadership style would be different from that of his predecessors. He decided to live in a Vatican guesthouse rather than the Apostolic Palace. Many of those who write to him have been surprised by a return letter or phone call. Also, he has gone in person to pay a bill and pick up a new pair of glasses.

During his first 10 years, Pope Francis, who is now 86, has made 40 trips abroad, visiting 60 countries. He visited the United States, including Philadelphia, in 2015. In eight consistories, he has created 95 cardinals under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave, and he has presided over the canonizations of 911 new saints, including Saints John Paul II, John XXIII and Paul VI.

“I ask all Catholics in the Diocese of Allentown to join me in praying for Pope Francis on the occasion of his 10th Anniversary,” said Bishop Alfred Schlert, who met with the Pope most recently during a pilgrimage to Rome in 2019. “May God bless him in his holy mission of leading our worldwide Church.”

Catholic News Service contributed to this story.


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