Pope Francis begins Sunday his fourth year as leader of the global Roman Catholic church. NCR wanted to mark the occasion by dipping into the some 2,500 stories we published mentioning the Argentine pontiff in 2015 and early 2016. Below are links to many of our reports accompanying the pope around the globe in the past year, followed by some of the most striking statements of his travels.
Pope Francis walks with Bolivian President Evo Morales and children in traditional dress as he arrives Wednesday at El Alto International Airport in La Paz, Bolivia. (CNS/Paul Haring)
Naples, Italy (March 21)
- Francis thunders against abuse of workers, corruption
- Francis decries 'terrorism of gossip,' priests and religious influenced by money
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (June 6)
Turin, Italy (June 21-22)
Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay (July 5-12)
- Francis cries out for Latin American freedom, unity
- Environmental destruction makes us like Cain, killing our brother
- Pope Francis insists on church's role in public life
- Hammer-sickle crucifix raises eyebrows during Pope Francis' visit
- Francis demands reform of 'intolerable' global economic system
- Close to home, pope highlights need for cooperation for common good
- All stories on Francis’ visit to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay
Cuba (Sept. 19-22)
- Francis urges continued thaw in relations with US
- 'Wealth impoverishes,' Francis begs for poor church
- All stories on Francis’ visit to Cuba
United States (Sept. 22-27)
- Francis asks critics, ‘Do I need to say the Creed?’
- Francis meets Obama, calling for protection of religious liberty, environment
- Francis tells US bishops to be ‘promoters of the culture of encounter’
- Newest saint, Junipero Serra, Francis says, protected Native Americans
- Francis, citing Day and Merton, pushes Congress to pursue common good
- Francis praises US women religious, but is non-specific on sexual abuse
- Francis, at UN, stresses 'reclaiming the environment,' 'absolute respect for life'
- At Ground Zero, Francis asks 9/11 families to be instruments of peace
- Francis: Church not about historic buildings, but personal calling
- At Independence Hall, Francis links religious liberty, cultural identity
- Francis' pastoral plan for families: gratitude over concerns
- Francis' last message to America: Don't be afraid of new things!
- All stories on Francis’ visit to the United States
Florence, Italy (Nov. 10)
- Francis laments 'cancer' of worker exploitation in Italian immigrant town
- Catholicism can and must change, Francis forcefully tells Italian church gathering
Kenya, Uganda, Central African Republic (Nov. 25-30)
- In Kenya, Francis calls for healing of divisions through tolerance, reconciliation
- Pope calls for eliminating carbon use, says failure in Paris would be 'catastrophic'
- Francis praises Uganda’s welcoming of refugees, calls Africa world’s hope
- Amid armored tanks, Francis urges war-torn Central African Republic to start 'new chapter'
- Francis: World close to suicide over climate change
- Francis inspired peace pact between Christian, Muslim armies in Africa
- All stories on Francis’ visit to Africa
Mexico (Feb. 12-17)
- Francis issues blunt warnings, broad vision in manifesto to Mexican bishops
- Under image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Francis calls for caring church
- In rough Mexican suburb, Francis decries wealth that 'tastes of pain'
- Francis decries treatment of Mexico's indigenous, blames those 'intoxicated by power'
- All stories on Francis’ visit to Mexico
Laudato Si', the environmental encyclical
Copies of Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment, "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home," are stacked on a table prior to a presentation on the encyclical June 30 at U.N. headquarters in New York City.(CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)
- Encyclical on environment sparks hope among academics, activists
- Vatican confirms title of environmental encyclical: Laudato Si'
- Leaked encyclical text puts climate change on humans
- Francis' encyclical an urgent call to prevent world of 'debris, desolation and filth'
- Francis' encyclical is a step in the right direction, those outside the church say
- US church grateful for Pope Francis' 'marvelous' encyclical
- World weighs in on 'Laudato Si''
- A readers' guide to 'Laudato Si''
- Thousands march in Rome to show support for Pope Francis' eco-encyclical
- Editorial: In encyclical, Pope Francis issues a challenge to the rich
- Pope designates Sept. 1 as World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation
- Contemplate, give thanks, protect: Pope Francis prays for creation
- All stories on Francis' environmental encyclical
Notable interviews, events & moments
Pope Francis answers questions from journalists aboard his flight from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to Rome Feb. 17. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
- Francis meets the Russian patriarch, declaring: 'We are brothers'
- In Mexican TV interview, Francis reviews pontificate, says to expect brief papacy
- Pope Francis joins homeless people for private tour of Sistine Chapel
- What we don't know about Francis' Kim Davis meeting
- In new interview, Francis pushes for a church big on mercy, tough
- Francis allows for discernment on contraception in emergency cases, spokesman says
- Pope Francis questions Donald Trump's Christianity, says border wall not from Gospel
Synod of Bishops on the family
Pope Francis raises the Book of the Gospels during the opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops on the family in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Oct. 4. The cover of the book is decorated with an image of the Holy Family. (CNS/Paul Haring)
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- Francis opens synod calling for church that is bridge, not roadblock
- Pope tells synod to be open-minded, cardinal says no to divorced and remarried
- Archbishop: Synod should reflect on possibly allowing female deacons
- Synod bishops express confusion in group reports, cardinal calls it healthy
- Synod expresses differing thoughts on mercy, marriage indissolubility
- Francis publicly apologizes for unspecified “scandals” caused by church recently
- German synod group outlines Communion path for remarried Catholics
- Synod offers striking softening to remarried, proposing individual discernment
- Vatican releases official English translation of final Synod document
- All stories on 2015 Synod of Bishops on the family
Jubilee Year of Mercy opens
Pope Francis opens the Holy Door before celebrating Mass at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome Jan. 1, 2016. (CNS photo/Maria Grazia Picciarella, pool)
- Francis announces new global jubilee, the Holy Year of Mercy
- Proclaiming jubilee, Francis envisions non-judging, non-condemning church
- Francis announces wide indulgences for mercy Jubilee, grants Lefebvrites faculties
- Amid armored tanks, Francis urges war-torn Central African Republic to start 'new chapter' (During visit, Francis opened the first holy door ahead of the official opening of the Year of Mercy)
- Francis opens Jubilee year with call for church that puts mercy before judgment
- Francis: Mercy Jubilee means we must open our hearts, forgive others
- Francis: Confessors should never judge; 'club of judgment' won't bring sheep back
“Nowadays the death penalty is inadmissible, no matter how serious the crime committed. It is an offence against the inviolability of life and the dignity of the human person, which contradicts God's plan for man and society, and his merciful justice, and impedes the penalty from fulfilling any just objective. It does not render justice to the victims, but rather fosters vengeance.” Audience with the International Commission against the Death Penalty, March 20, 2015
"What to do, a young person without work? What future do they have? What path of life to choose? This is a responsibility not only of the city, not only of the country, but of the world. Because -- because there is an economic system that throws away people and now touches the young people, namely, without work. … The problem is not [about] eating, The most grave problem is not to have the possibility to bring bread home, to earn it. And when you do not earn bread, you lose dignity, and this lacking of work robs us of dignity! We must defend our dignity, as citizens, as men, as women, as young people! This is grave!" Visit to Naples, Italy, March 21, 2015
“I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.” “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home” June 18, 2015
An aerial view of the Rio Platano nature reserve in Honduras.
(CNS photo/Gustavo Amador, EPA)
“The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish.” “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home” June 18, 2015
"Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it. It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the earth's orbit and axis, the solar cycle), yet a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases ... released mainly as a result of human activity." “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home” June 18, 2015
"We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay. Until greater progress is made in developing widely accessible sources of renewable energy, it is legitimate to choose the lesser of two evils or to find short-term solutions.” “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home” June 18, 2015
"I say this to you with regret: Many grave sins were committed against the native peoples of America in the name of God. Here I wish to be quite clear, as was St. John Paul II: I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offenses of the church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America." Address to World Meeting of Popular Movements, Santa Cruz, Bolivia, July 9, 2015
“In conclusion, I would like to repeat: the future of humanity does not lie solely in the hands of great leaders, the great powers and the elites. It is fundamentally in the hands of peoples and in their ability to organize. It is in their hands, which can guide with humility and conviction this process of change. I am with you. Let us together say from the heart: no family without lodging, no rural worker without land, no laborer without rights, no people without sovereignty, no individual without dignity, no child without childhood, no young person without a future, no elderly person without a venerable old age. Keep up your struggle and, please, take great care of Mother Earth.” Address to World Meeting of Popular Movements, Santa Cruz, Bolivia, July 9, 2015
“I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of all Americans. As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families. I look forward to these days of encounter and dialogue, in which I hope to listen to, and share, many of the hopes and dreams of the American people.” Speech on the South Lawn at the White House, Sept. 23, 2015
Pope Francis delivers an address at Independence Mall in Philadelphia Sept. 26. He spoke near a statue of George Washington to an estimated crowd of 50,000 people. (CNS photo/Lisa Johnston, St. Louis Review)
“I know that you face many challenges, and that the field in which you sow is unyielding and that there is always the temptation to give in to fear, to lick one’s wounds, to think back on bygone times and to devise harsh responses to fierce opposition. And yet we are promoters of the culture of encounter. We are living sacraments of the embrace between God’s riches and our poverty. We are witnesses of the abasement and the condescension of God who anticipates in love our every response. Dialogue is our method, not as a shrewd strategy but out of fidelity to the One who never wearies of visiting the marketplace, even at the eleventh hour, to propose his offer of love (Mt 20:1-16). The path ahead, then, is dialogue among yourselves, dialogue in your presbyterates, dialogue with lay persons, dialogue with families, dialogue with society. I cannot ever tire of encouraging you to dialogue fearlessly. The richer the heritage which you are called to share with parrhesia, the more eloquent should be the humility with which you should offer it. Do not be afraid to set out on that “exodus” which is necessary for all authentic dialogue. Otherwise, we fail to understand the thinking of others, or to realize deep down that the brother or sister we wish to reach and redeem, with the power and the closeness of love, counts more than their positions, distant as they may be from what we hold as true and certain. Harsh and divisive language does not befit the tongue of a pastor, it has no place in his heart; although it may momentarily seem to win the day, only the enduring allure of goodness and love remains truly convincing.” Speech to the United States bishops, Sept. 23, 2015
“Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12). This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.” Speech to United States Congress, Sept. 24, 2015
“I am deeply pained by the stories, the sufferings and the pain of minors who were sexually abused by priests. I continue to be ashamed that persons charged with the tender care of those little ones abused them and caused them grave harm. I deeply regret this. God weeps. The crimes and sins of sexual abuse of minors may no longer be kept secret; I commit myself to ensuring that the Church makes every effort to protect minors and I promise that those responsible will be held to account. Survivors of abuse have become true heralds of hope and ministers of mercy; humbly we owe our gratitude to each of them and to their families for their great courage in shedding the light of Christ on the evil sexual abuse of minors.” Speech to bishops at World Meeting of Families at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, Sept. 27, 2015
"It is not ... with the club of judgment that we will bring back the lost sheep to the fold, but with the holiness of life that is the principle of renewal and reform in the church." Audience with 'Missionaries of Mercy', Feb. 9, 2016